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:
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.