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A singer takes issue with Salzburg’s rehearsal policies

The revelation that a wealthy festival like Salzburg is refusing to pay accommodation or rehearsal fees for non-star singers has provoked huge resentment among the singing community. The American soprano Laura Aikin, who has sung Lulu in Berlin and La Scala and will appear in Birtwistle’s Gawain in Salzburg this summer, broke silence today to broach Salzburg’s penny pinching. Here’s what she writes:

laura aikin

 

The way I see it…. Rehearsal periods are longer. Directors require, even depend, upon our input during the creative process which we gladly give!! The co-production system means our work during rehearsals are “sold” down the line. While we are occasionally granted releases to perform elsewhere during the 6 week rehearsal period, it is generally a time blocked off from further earnings.

Those of us with children have to pay flights for them to visit and child care while we are gone. We are often required to rehearse in inappropriate locations because of set design or budget restrictions, far from where we are housed, requiring long rides on public transport exposing us to the sneezes and coughs of fellow passengers.

“Super Bugs” mean simple colds are getting harder and harder to shake off, so one cancellation easily multiplies. A replacement is found, who gets our fee and didn’t have to bear any of the cost of the rehearsal process.

Of course rehearsing is a separate “skill” that incurs for us extra cost and should be remunerated.

As we should be paid properly for DVDs which are released of our work. When did that start? Salzburg 2006 when we all released the DVD rights for mozart21 with no payment. I personally have never been thanked for offering my services for a good cause from said charitable entity at any dress rehearsal, and I certainly think if tickets were free, even MORE people would go, giving us an even better audience to test our weeks of rehearsing upon.

All that being said….these are tough times. When opera companies are struggling, can we seriously not accept some cuts in pay or benefits?
I do not justify that we should be paid for rehearsing because “we used to be paid”. But rather because, in the current situation, it is in fact better to lower performance fees and assure our actual expenses are securely covered.

With the greatest respect and gratitude to Mr. Periera, rehearsal fees do still exist in many theaters.

I don’t begin to say I understand the inner workings of opera companies and the financial entities that support them. A minimal rehearsal fee…call it an advance on thee performance fee…shouldn’t be an issue. Paying for housing up front out of your own pocket is not so nice if you have to wait until a production is over to be paid. To its credit, Salzburg does allow advances on fees and pays immediately. I do imagine that if one for extreme reasons doesn’t perform, that would contractually have to be returned.

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Comments

  1. A sensible balanced view……. I always thought not getting any pay for rehearsals was normal until I worked in Germany where for new productions, one is paid a (capped) percentage of one’s performance fee per day of rehearsal, even though the actual performance fees were lower than the well paying (at the time….) houses in Spain and Italy for example. I always judge the financial viability of an offer by looking at the gross amount earned over a given period. By redividing the same gross fees to smaller performance fees, plus a guarenteed rehearsal fee, this would safeguard performers unlucky enough to have cancel multiple shows through accident or illness. Also, I am sure I am not the only performer who will occasionally accept a lower fee when in a concentrated period there are a high number of performances; one often earns more than just, for example, 4 higher paid performances after rehearsing for 6 weeks………..

  2. another orchestra musician says:

    Paying traveling performers on a per performance basis makes sense when the rehearsal period is short, as it commonly is. When the rehearsal period extends over multiple weeks, by contrast, it is more reasonable to pay performers on an itemised per service basis, just as orchestra casuals are. Opera and theatre productions rehearsed over a period of multiple weeks frequently involve multiple casts; uniform remuneration per rehearsal, in such cases, helps anchor a collegial attitude between performers. Moreover, it is a motivation for performers to attend rehearsals. Performers not remunerated separately for rehearsal time may easily feel inclined to skip rehearsals they view as inconvenient or unnecessary. I think someone as experienced as Mr. Pereira must understand this.

  3. This is indeed appalling, especially when one knows that the Salzburg Festival has an annual budget of 65 million Euros and their now ousted director, Alexander Pereira, went over that budget by 5 million! To not cover a singer’s accommodation and rehearsal fees is outrageous, especially as this is not done elsewhere and Salzburg tries to present itself to the world as the greatest classical music festival in the world, yet it is nothing more than an elitist event with over the top ticket prices and snobbery and pretentiousness in abundance. The sacking of Alexander Pereira is an excellent thing. He is a haughty and arrogant man, applying a very dismissive, high handed manner in dealing with ‘underlings’, which for him means anybody outside of the uber-rich circle that he likes to be part of. The musicians and singers are mere excuses for him to indulge himself and his circle at their expense. I know this all very well, as my partner has performed and been a part of the Salzburg Festival for a few years. It could not go on any longer with such an arrogant and pretentious leadership, dismissive of the artists (except for glittering superstars) and only interested in the Gstaad and Monte Carlo crowd. Is that what classical music has come to? Unfortunately yes, and it’s good that Pereira got the boot , so that now perhaps the festival can get back to being for musicians and an essentially music loving public, not the salzburg fashionistas that Pereira cultivated.

    • I must defend Pereira here. I don’t know everything about what is currently going on in Salzburg, but last summer I didn’t get that impression at all. The Ball at the end if the year, which was his idea, was just a big crazy party! When I left at 3am he was still there! He was in attendance for the beginning of the Summer dinner the Festspiel gives for all the artists. And he was extremely supportive of our cast ( I can only speak for the Die Soldaten crew ). Sure there was lots of glitter and glam, but honestly it seemed like less to me than previous years, and I’ve been singing there since 1995 (ouch). It was certainly a challenging transitional year for him and his team, but I really don’t see how he could have inflicted such damage to the overall atmosphere in just one season. But everyone has their own experiences. Mine was in fact very positive. I suppose your parter’s wasn’t. I’m sorry to hear that.

  4. This is the most clear and articulate statement of the troubling circumstances singers (and other musicians) are facing today that this reader has seen yet, and it answers well some of the complaints raised by a director made against younger singers in an earlier recent post. The economic decline (sic. collapse) in Europe and elsewhere is getting worse right now and it is affecting every cultural and social institution. Judging by the huge subsidies that U.S. banks are receiving there is concern that the decline is also hitting the banks and other financial institutions (though maybe not some of the politically best situated hedge fund traders and the Bilderbergers), and is doing so in a big way, even if their books don’t show it, and notwithstanding any temporary relief from an active rising stock market. It seems as if we in the West have outsourced so much that we have reached the stage that we are no longer able to manufacture anything of substance cheaply enough that can be sold or traded, other than armaments, or to build anything- i.e., infrastructure- in the Third World that works, and, as a result, have more and more been forced to rely on war to drive our economy, even though it is an inefficient and destructive driver. (That may be more a U.S., British and French problem than a German one.
    Even so, Germany and its musicians and artists are now feeling the crunch.)

  5. This is why there are unions. If there’s an opportunity to exploit labor, that opportunity will be taken.

    • Tomas speaks truth. In the absence of labor unions there will be exploitation that’s a given. Espcially where performers are concerned. It’s all about the idea of song and dance as recreation not as a career, It’s up to us to speak up for our skills sets. Otherwise there is abuse aplenty to be meted out.

      • Laura Aikin says:

        Look at what happened at the London Olympics where the musicians were asked to perform for free for the “Honor” of being asked. And then playback???? A dreadful precedent was set there.

        Regarding exploitation, I am trying to figure out what the situation is in Europe regarding rules and union representation. Things used to be so much better, but now… it is horrible. I’m guessing artists were treated well because the theaters could afford to do it, not because they were compelled to do so. Things are indeed very different. If I get some answers, I’ll make sure Norman gets the info, so artists who come from outside Europe to perform he will know their rights.

  6. Brava ! This will be reposted by many !

  7. EXCELLENT!!!

  8. Perhaps somebody could explain why an artist accepts a contract and then turns around and complains about the conditions. If they don’t like the conditions they should not accept the contract. If their career is such that they have to accept it or be unemployed they should be a bit more philosophical and stop winging.

    • I didn’t winge about my contract. I merely state that it is a dangerous practice in which singers face a risk that used to be shared by the opera companies. The companies say they eliminate rehearsal fees in the name of saving money, but a guaranteed rehearsal fee taken from the performance fee at least assists us in confronting the immediate costs of the rehearsal period. It also assures in the event we can’t perform (very rare but it happens) that we don’t experience a loss after having worked in good faith for the benefit of the opera production for weeks. Or have a “reduction” in implied rehearsal fee if we miss even one performance. It was normal practice in Salzburg before the recent change of the guard. Rehearsal fees are being phased out in other theaters as well, and before we allow it to become the norm, perhaps we can open a dialogue to consider other ideas, such as unfortunately a slight fee reduction. It’s a simple question of math, but the opera companies are putting the burden of the risk fully in the hands of ever more vulnerable singers.

    • Hasbeen there is pressure from agents and managers in the case of accepting contracts that not up to par with the performers needs. That said, you are correct in your assessment. The only ones to blame are ourselves for not speaking out on behalf of our marketable skills.

      • Laura Aikin says:

        That it is a very individual situation depending on the relationship between each artist and their management. In general, these days both managers and artists are going to fold earlier in negotiations just to keep the cash coming in. That’s why unions and protective laws exist. Whether they are followed or not is yet another matter. The stories I am hearing lead me to believe that the kind treatment artists used to get from the companies that hired them, was based on a tradition of respect for their efforts and the time that went into learning their craft. Now it seems respect is a commodity that some theaters can no longer afford. And it is the young singers who are really bearing the brunt of it.

    • It is called having to work and earn a living. If you get known for being “too expensive” or “difficult about contracts”, the label sticks and work can dry up quickly. There is unfortunately always someone willing to work for less than you. I am on the side of the performers. They “face the music” when they throw themselves in front of a paying audience.

  9. Thank you for all your kind comments. I wrote the above statement as a comment on Facebook to support Elisabeth Kulmann’s discussion about rehearsal fees in Salzburg, and Mr. Pereira’s response to her interview in the Salzburger Nachrichten. I merely hoped to make the case why today more than ever, not only in Salzburg, we need protection and support from theaters rather than unfair and unjustifiable austerity measures. I sang last Summer Marie in Die Soldaten in Salzburg. We rehearsed 7 weeks and had a wonderful time. Thank goodness no one was ill for the performances. That was unfortunately not the case for all the productions, although I must say, I do not believe anyone missed all their performances. I fail to mention above the risk of being incapable of performing because of stage injuries. One could make the case with productions being more and more spectacular and therefore dangerous, the risk there of taking a financial hit is also greater. Years ago when I broke my ankle onstage at the predress of Lulu at Bastille, the Bastille generously kept me on as “vocal cover” for the colleague who replaced me. Certainly more an act of kindness than necessity. I fear today not even the Bastille would be able to manage that. In Italy we wait for months, dare I say in some cases years, to be paid. All expenses are entirely upon us. We must even wait for flight reimbursement. Elisabeth is right. We find ourselves well down the slippery slope by now. The rights and protections we enjoyed in the past were negotiated by our predecessors. Perhaps, above all for future generations, a meaningful dialogue would be prudent before we slide down any further.

    • Make sure agents and managers negotiate in good faith on your behalf. We all must hold dear the hard work that goes into a career in the performing arts. Laura you made San Francisco audiences so very happy when you appeared here in Francois d’Assis. Hoping to hear you again in our fair City. Sincerely yours, claudia (chorus member since 1975)

  10. At first, as I read Laura’s comments it sounded like a moan about conditions without any recognition of the realities companies face, but as I read on she illuminated a very real issue with a clear discussion. I didn’t know this issue was common in opera, which I always thought had more money than dance and therefore avoided it.
    There are interesting choices made when paying performers in dance. Some companies embrace the performance fee only. Some pay a weekly and some pay a fee that is meant to include rehearsal and performance. On some occasions there is the R&D only pay. I like to pay my performers for their rehearsal time where they become an integral part of the work. This time is far greater than the actual time onstage. I have always made it a policy to acknowledge that essential part of the commitment. It means that performance is not paid at a premium. It also makes the system of paying more complicated. I have a small company and am sometimes paying from my own bank account. But I still pay the rehearsals.

  11. Each musician must be able to live normally from his income. We also have to pay our bills. The situation will not change as long as any of us can be replaced as desired and as long as there is the fear of being no longer engaged.

    • Laura Aikin says:

      Funny you mention this. I certainly didn’t flinch when I was told my rehearsal fee was being cut while my performance fee remained the same. It amounted to more than a 15% reduction, but I expected a reduction with the financial crisis. I probably should have put up a fight at the time, but I was just thrilled to be involved with the project. That’s the slippery slope though, similar to what I wrote about the mozart21 DVD’s. We were all just so happy to be a part of that historic event, no one complained. (Heck, I was thrilled!! I was singing Konstanze in Salzburg!! I’d have done the whole Summer for free!!) EVERYONE gave up their rights to the DVD’s. And since then it’s never been the same. Anywhere. We thought we were sacrificing for a special event, but what we did was set a new precedent. We showed them we were willing to let the rights go out of solidarity and for the sake of publicity. Now I our fees for DVD’s are more gratuities than fees. And…. we are still happy to do it! What can I say? We love our jobs!! We do need thought to think ahead for future generations, and try and keep things fair.

  12. Rafael de Acha says:

    The comments to Ms. Aikin’s posting are mostly sensible and a few are quite insightful – “Kozmika”, a long-time member of the San Francisco Opera chorus provides one the most compelling insights into this issue. Interestingly, “Kozmika” is an American working in an American house under the aegis of AGMA – the American Guild of Musical Artists. I mention the American “thing” to point up the vast differences between working conditions for performing artists in the USA and many of the European countries.
    In our country one has to have union membership to work in any of the performing arts. My thirty-five years of experience as a free-lance director in Opera and theatre, twenty of which I spent as producer and artistic director of my own theatre, taught me to see things from both sides of the fence. In our country, a theatre, opera company, dance company or orchestra would be black-listed by their corresponding union and, if no action was taken by management to rectify the violation of the union member’s rights, the culprit company would be fined by the corresponding union and again, if no solution was obtained, it would be shut-down.
    These protective measures exist for Actor’s Equity Association (theatre actors and stage managers), American Guild of Musical Artists (Opera and Ballet), AFTRA (TV and radio), AGVA (variety, cabaret, circus) and for the several unions in the film industry and the many unions that protect stage-hands, stage directors, designers, orchestra musicians and just about anybody who labors in the performing arts.
    The state of things in the performing arts in Austria (not to generalize about Europe) sounds appalling, based on what one reads in the various postings shown here. American artists working abroad do not seem to enjoy the same protection that visiting European artists have in our country.

  13. I won’t say much after all that has been written above but it touches a chord with all singers. For example – I am currently working in Lyon. 8 weeks of rehearsal for a modern opera. I had to pay for my flights and my accommodation up front which put me several thousand Euros out of pocket. It would be entirely reasonable to have the opera company at least cover your apartment expenses at the beginning of the whole process.

    I actually think that the whole way singers are paid is a bit of a stitch up between agents and opera houses. Agents get a percentage of your fee. They would not get a percentage of accommodation payments and so would get lower commission overall if fees were lower to allow accommodation to be paid. Hence they are unlikely to encourage a change in the system.

    Every singer understands Laura’s point re the number of performances. The more performances there are the more one can afford to be flexible. Our professional eye is on the gross income for the whole period not on per/performance.

    Not withstanding that it is still a privilege to make one’s life as an opera singer!

    Philip Sheffield

    • Laura Aikin says:

      It is indeed a privilege! What you say about management is very interesting. In the states they do in fact get a percentage on travel and accommodation. I’ve always thought that was unfair… but now the way you present it, it does begin to make sense. It is a matter of sharing both the gain and the risk. AGMA has that one figured out. I need to think about this one for a while. Soprano brain doesn’t do so well with numbers. Too many high notes! LOL!

  14. Dr. Emilio Pons says:

    With all due respect to my colleague Laura Aikin, who I have never met personally, but with whose outstanding work I am well acquainted, I think that if we find ourselves “slippery slopes” it is precisely because singers have allowed them to occur in the first place.

    The way I see it, it all boils down to a lack of fairness and overall lack of consideration and respect by many theater administrators vis-à-vis employees in general, and singers in particular.

    Theater administrators are all too aware of the fierce, harsh competition –and, crucially, the lack of solidarity– amongst singers (soloists), and they exploit this to their advantage. They offer increasingly low fees under increasingly demanding circumstances, often paired with less-than-ideal, disrespectful, belittling work environments, knowing full well that if one of us refuses to put up with them and either does not accept a contract or cancels a production (or a performance), they will find an almost endless list of willing candidates who will (to quote Ms. Aikin) “sing the whole summer for free” in exchange for the privilege of working in Salzburg –or any other house or festival for that matter.

    Yet no one expects –in fact, no one would welcome– that kind of well-intentioned “naiveté” from a theater administrator; and most certainly, no artistic administrator, no general music director, no opera director, no casting director (heck, not even those dramaturgs in Germany whose actual contribution is highly debatable) would ever fathom doing their work for free.

    Bottom line is: Inequality is inequality, no matter where it happens to occur. The current financial crisis has awoken the general population’s awareness to the rampant inequality of the corporate world. People are beginning to realize that there is simply no reason why CEO’s should earn dozens if not hundreds of times more than their average employee. (See for instance: http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/). Even Switzerland and the EU are pondering legal ways to put an end to this type of injustice by limiting executive pay.

    In the music world, however, we are severely lagging behind in this regard –the fact that, at least in Europe, most artistic institutions rely heavily on public subsidies, notwithstanding. Out of fear of being black-listed in this highly competitive and closed-off business, out of a reluctance to discuss financial compensation figures openly and accurately, and out of a selfish desire to look exclusively after ourselves and not after our colleagues (and certainly not for the next generation of young singers), we are failing to recognize the injustices that are also deeply ingrained in our business.

    I will not speculate about the income that Mr. Pereyra earned either in Zürich or in Salzburg, though I do believe that full transparency is direly needed across the board in the opera world as well. Therefore, I will take a well publicized and documented, rather recent example: Klaus Weise’s whopping €320,000 annual salary as intendant (not of the Metropolitan Opera, not Covent Garden, etc.) but of the opera house in Bonn, Germany (i. e. hardly a leading international house). (http://www.general-anzeiger-bonn.de/bonn/kultur/Bonner-Generalintendant-antwortet-auf-seinen-Berliner-Kollegen-article937876.html)

    One has to bear in mind not only the fact that our chancellor, Angela Merkel, earns an annual salary shy of €190,000, but most crucially, that an average singer’s annual salary as a member of a “Fest” ensemble in Germany, singing several dozen performances a year, is roughly 1/10th of that –hardly enough for a singer to provide for him/herself and a young family, let alone live grandly and buy a house, etc!

    Moreover, some opera houses in Germany are paying the equivalent to roughly €700 per month after taxes to the members of their young artists programs for the “privilege” of being initiated into this system of exploitation –the fact that some of these singers perform even leading roles which would otherwise cost the opera houses a lot more money notwithstanding!

    Sure, €320,000 is peanuts for performing the difficult task of being the general director of a theatre if you compare that to the multi-million salaries of professional soccer players for chasing after a ball, or even worse, to any of the Kardashian-sluts types out there in the pantheon of American popular (garbage) pop-culture; but that’s a whole other issue, and that’s literally comparing oranges and apples! The fact remains that €320,000 is a disproportionately large sum by comparison to any of the artists who are *actually* performing on stage on a regular basis and giving their best, day after day, evening after evening.

    None of the much necessary discussions currently being held on this and other forums will bear any fruits unless we are willing to also openly discuss these and other aspects of inequality in the opera world.

    • Laura Aikin says:

      Thank you, Emilio. I’ve only in the last few years become aware of the difficulties and abuse of the fest system. It wasn’t that way when I was fest. Now I find myself at a point where I do want to help the young singers as they get started. One can’t expect to eliminate competition between us. I guess that is what unions are for. But within Europe there are so many different countries it would take a EU directive to unify us. That is rather unlikely. So… next step???

      • Laura Aikin says:

        This crisis is amazing… nothing is the same. Nothing. It’s like the world was put in a big paper bag, shaken up and dumped out. The only way to survive is to think outside the box and invent a new reality from the pieces left. Honestly, I sincerely feel sorry for the people trying to keep these cultural institutions afloat!! We want to work, but they have cultural traditions to uphold that existed long before they came on board. They don’t want to be the ones running the ship when it runs aground. We have to work with them on this. And still maintain solidarity amongst ourselves.

        • Another Working Singer says:

          ^^ This. In the US, nothing has really been the same since the wave of panic in 2009. Cancellations, bankruptcies, closures ….. So many of us keep trying to stay chipper and act as though nothing has changed, when really we’re all painfully aware deep-down that nothing is the same, nor is it likely it will be again. I know more talented working singers with empty forward calendars now than I ever have (and even those with bookings are taking lower fees, singing fewer performances, or singing at lower levels than we might have 10 years ago).

          Union support is good… but it can also be abused by those who ask for too much when there is nothing for the institutions to give. And yes, solidarity is key… and something that is often in short supply in this business! One hopes that enough people realise it is the only way forward. At some point, it needs to start being about the *art* again, and less about the “business”… while still allowing artists to be able to feed their families and pay the rent without killing themselves in the process.

          Thank you – and Dr Pons – for adding excellent fuel to this particular discussion fire. It’s been quite a week for “Operatic Disclosures”!

      • Dr. Emilio Pons says:

        Dear Laura,

        Well, call me crazy, but most of the world’s most significant revolutionary movements have begun as individual efforts of brave individuals –like Elisabeth Kulman and yourself.

        In the twentieth century, we saw the end of discrimination in the United States and of Apartheid in South Africa through the individual displays of courage of people like Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela, respectively, and in this century we saw the impact that the common man (if one can call a hero “common”), aided by the power of the internet and social media, had to overthrow a number of dictators in the Arab World. If even such overwhelmingly abusive and historically deeply rooted systems could be overturn, what would make anyone think that the system currently in place in the opera world should be any different, let alone mightier?!

        I am not unaware of the cowardice that characterizes most of my colleagues, particularly those who are just starting their careers or who are yet to solidly establish themselves, as they are driven by their (genuine) concerns about falling out of favor with “the powers that be”, being blacklisted and not being able to continue working in this profession.

        However, for this to be true would require for the assumption that ALL artistic administrators are created equal, and that all opera theaters have equally unfair practices in place, to be true –and that is simply not the case.

        Even in my, comparatively, not so extensive professional experience, I have been treated exceptionally well in various opera companies. In fact, I have only been particularly mistreated by members of three administrations –one in Germany, one in Switzerland (lead by an intendant who was head of a German theater for several seasons), and one in Austria. (See a pattern here?) By contrast, my experiences in Denmark, Belgium, Israel, Mexico and Chile have been nothing but extremely rewarding.

        Therefore, the task at hand, while colossal, is not impossible. We need to excise those who insist on abusing their power and ensure that the good, fair practices which already in place in many theaters are extended to the entire system.

        Perhaps most crucially, we need the support of a union for soloists (most professional orchestras and choruses and not victims of abuse thanks to the existence of workers’ unions for them), Europe-wide legislation particular applicable to our field, and an ombudsman of sorts to overlook the activities of and, if necessary, to solve disputes outside the ordinary courts and to penalize those in administrative positions who abuse their power. And considering that the issue at stake here is largely supported by public funds, creating an official body to ensure that those funds are not mishandled should not be out of the question.

      • deborah york says:

        I don’t think an EU directive agreeing to conditions for soloists in European countries is too much to ask. It is obviously what is needed to create a fair and clear working framework for all concerned. Soloists need to unite and start drawing some lines in the sand. The only way to do this is to unionise.

  15. Ms. Aiken makes a very eloquent case for labor relationship in the arts. I congratulate her on the excellent narrative and for having the courage to go public with the story and put it in print.
    And just recently we saw the ticket prices for upcoming season.
    Very troubling indeed.

  16. Such a pleasure to read Laura’s and Emilio’s comments- colleagues whom I respect and would love to see more of! As both a trainer of young singers at the University of Cape Town and a free lance conductor, I hope my students read this and see that they are entering the field Ina difficult time. Surely courage, and an absolute knowledge of one’s instrument have always been required. Increasingly issues such as how to remain healthy, live on a shoestring without betraying your financial anxieties, and out-guess what contingencies may arise owing to the nature of the rehearsal/production ratio in terms of time given over for fees received- (some of these are old issues and some are new- indicates that guidance of elders, be we coaches, conductors, voice teachers, agents- needs to be spot on as never before. Let’s really start discussion and collaboration on a broad scale! My many gifted students have placed their trust in me, and only with support of people who have been there and who are still there, can I hope to rise to the demands.

  17. Thomas Moser says:

    The problem with Salzburg begins with the fact that – in many practical respects – The Salburg Festival has been officially declared an exception to the rule in Austria. All Austrian theatres must comply with the edicts of the Opera Directors Conference, which has established how rehearsal pay is to be paid, etc. Not so in Salzburg. Advances on pay have always been possible, but are limited. Unfortunately, Mr. Pereira is a man of many faces. And everyone who has commented about him, his attitude and his bevahiour is correct : it simply dependes on how he feels about the individual artist as to which “face” is shown. I am pleased that he has left, as I was always skeptical regarding his honesty and sincerity.

    I am happy not to be having to begin my career at this point in time. As for “solidarity” and “unions” : there is no such in the world of vocal soloists. There will always be one who is willing to betray the majority in order to get that engagement, or will under-bid everyone else just in order to have the job. Directors know this, and they play with it.

    Not an easy situation. But, in the case of Salzburg, the problem lies within the exceptional legal status the festival enjoys.

    Thomas Moser

  18. Given that Salzburg is part of the EU, and these singers are being paid, it would be interesting to see if any of these companies are falling foul of EU employment regulations.

    Of course, this would rely on singers (and their agents, their unions and professional bodies) actually taking a stand against unreasonable contracts, and any company failing to comply being successful prosecuted. It is a pity it has come to this. Far better the contracts were reasonable in the first place. Reasonable travel, assistance with accommodation, ensuring that singers are not out of pocket appears to be a small price to pay for the loyalty of the singer.

    Sure the bugs around in the travel system are not good, but if a singer does have to fly home as his or her accommodation is not being covered quite so regularly then they’ll be less travel not more.

    Personally it appears a no brainer, look after your staff and they’ll take care of you.

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