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Musicians strike at Russian opera. Minister says: they will be punished

The musicians walked out at Volgograd Opera earlier this week, complaining of a sharp drop in their pay packet. The wage is about $115 a month.

The threatre has been performing Carmen with piano accompaniment.

‘It was decided to change the conditions of work, and artists have been notified,’ said the theatre director, Vladimir Bozhko. The regional minister of culture, Viktor Gepfner, added: ‘those responsible for disrupting the performance should be punished.’ Full story here (in Russian).

Nice.

volgograd

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Comments

  1. I feel sorry for these musicians who need to survive on $150/month. Of course a dollar in Russia gets you further than a dollar in the US (not to even think about EU), but still to think that an orchestra musician in the US can earn over 50 times his Russian colleague… It is the same job after all, right?

    • “a dollar in Russia gets you further than a dollar in the US (not to even think about EU)” – well, it really depends. In cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, real estate prices are as much up there as in the most expensive countries of the world. Living expenses are very much comparable to the US and Europe as long as one wants a healthy living standard. Some daily life items are even more expensive.

      Most Russian musicians are underpayed while having to follow unrealistic schedules, never being able to build up finances for improvement of their lives. I can only respect the musicians of the Volgograd Opera for taking a stand in a system that offers them no chance at all.

      • I know the price range very well since I studied in St. Petersburg. Luckily many Russians live in apartments they “inherited” during privatization so their salary is not spent on rent. But the living expenses are not really comparable to the US or rest of Europe. The border between Finland and Russia happens to be one of the steepest in terms of difference in the standard of living. Greetings from Finland!

        • Please do not read me wrong, I mean it with respect, but when was the last time you were in St. Petersburg (or the rest of Europe)? Living expenses have risen enormously and keep going up by the month – at least they are already very much comparable to The Netherlands and Germany, which one would not expect.
          As far as “inherited” apartments are concerned, it must be made clear that a lot of them are in very bad shape, sometimes have shared amenities, have been split and given to several families etc., so if we are talking about standard of living, I do not feel these Russians are necessarily so luckily. Do not forget that electricity and water costs have gone through the roof lately, public transport fares have been raised several times in the past years and this trend is not coming to halt.
          I spend roughly 190 days per year abroad, of which 90 days in St. Petersburg. The expenses for this Russian city are the highest of all my travels, and I do not only move around Nevsky. With the work that I do there – recording projects with orchestras – I have a good idea of what musicians are being payed and under no circumstances are wages comparable to western ensembles (no need to even think about US orchestras…).
          To come back to my previous post – I was mostly trying to show respect to the musicians from the Volgograd Opera, as I do believe it is a very real situation for many Russian musicians and it is rare that they dare to oppose. Unfortunately, it seems that the system is too rigid to make real changes, but I am impressed that at least someone is trying.

  2. Russia is anything but cheap regardless of owning ones home or not. Just as there are cheaper places to live and spend in any city like London or New York,to live of such a pittance is a kind of poverty we don’t grasp in the West. Most Russian musicians are nothing short of impoverished.
    Russia, a very rich country, is a crueler version of the “winner take all” kleptocracy where a few extremely rich people hold most of the money. These same types of people in the West such as the Minnesota Orchestra board take a “let them eat cake” attitude towards people who have more skills than they themselves possess nor understand. So sad that just over 100 years after the first uprising against the Czar, they still have roughly the same wealth distribution issues.

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