Elisabeth Kulman, leader of the Singers Spring, has bearded the Salzburg boss in his den, demanding to know why he refuses to pay non-stellar artists for rehearsals, or cover their travel and accommodation costs. Pereira was charm personified. I’d love to pay more, he said. Oh, read on….
„Sie können sicher sein, dass mir die Künstler am Herzen liegen. Ohne euch geht gar nichts!“
“Rest assured, I have the best interests of the Artists at heart. We can do nothing without you!” Alexander Pereira.
Those were the opening words of the discussion I had with Alexander Pereira on May 8, 2013 in Wien. With an surprisingly open and friendly discussion, despite weeks of criticism in the press on my part, Mr. Pereira made himself available for a full 90 minutes. He spoke most respectfully of his artists, almost apologetically, despite blaming difficult situations regarding the planning on a variety of causes out of his control. Regarding selling tickets in excess of 150 Euros for Dress Rehearsals the artists were forced to sing for free, his response “Tickets to dress rehearsals will certainly no longer be sold, unless there is another Earthquake in Northern Italy (…) and then in that case, the artists will be asked in advance.”
Asked about rehearsal fees and expense, he said that performance fees were high enough to cover expenses eventually. I informed him that this was not standard practice worldwide. If a singer fell ill and was unable to perform, hegave his word that they would not be out of pocket. “In such a case, I can assure you, that I would not let these people stand out in the rain.”.
He agreed that in Italy, Spain or France, a rehearsal period of one to three and a half weeks of rehearsal should be enough for most productions. In German speaking countries, where productions tend to be more complex, they needs twice as much rehearsal time. He personally finds although “rehearsal periods of seven weeks are simply wrong, 5-6 is the absolute maximum necessary.” Ironically all of the productions in Salzburg this Summer have seven week rehearsal periods and the artists are completely on their own to finance their expenses.
Mr. Pereira himself expects when he is traveling in his role as Intendant and representative of the Salzburg Festival that all his expenses should be completely covered in addition to his own salary. When this discrepancy was pointed out to him, he had no response.
AP: “Ihr müsst mich als euren Anwalt sehen und nicht als euren Feind. Ich bin euer Anwalt. Ihr habt keine Ahnung, was ich für Schlachten führe, damit ich die Dinge durchsetzen kann, die ich durchsetzen muss. Ich kann es nur so gut machen, wie ich halt bin, nicht besser und nicht schlechter.”
EK: “Sie könnten besser sein!”
AP: “Oh ja, ich würde auch gerne anders zahlen.”
EK: “Ein kleines Gedankenspiel: Wenn Geld keine Rolle spielen würde, was für ein Programm würden sie machen und wie würden Sie Ihre Künstler bezahlen?”
AP: “Ich würde ungefähr das Programm machen, das ich mache, und natürlich würde ich mehr Geld bezahlen!”
EK: “Würden Sie Probengeld und Hotels bezahlen?”
AP: “Wenn Geld keine Rolle spielt, dann spielt es keine Rolle! Jedenfalls würden wir besser zahlen, als wir jetzt zahlen!”
AP: “You must see me as your advocate, not your enemy. I am your advocate. You have no idea what battles I fight to push through the things I need to do. I can only do the best I can, not not better, nor worse. ”
EK “You could do better!”
AP “. Yeah, I would also like to be able to pay differently.”
EK: “If money were no object, what kind of programme would you put on and how would you pay your artists?”
AP: “I would do more or less the program that I’m doing, and of course I would pay more.”
EK “Would you pay for rehearsals and hotels?”
AP: “If money was no object, that would not matter! In any event, we would pay more than we do now! ”