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Opera house blames staff – individually – for mounting debt

In a move astonishing in its brazen insensitivity and probable illegality, the Teatro Real in Madrid has served notice on individual staff members that it will try to recover the debts they have caused. Here’s a first report in Spanish. We wonder how much they will try to claw back from Gerard Mortier.


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  1. Well that’s a novel idea….

  2. Spanish practices!

    • Alberich el Negro says:

      Or British practices, or American practices, or French practices, or German practices… Or even better: capitalist practices

      • No – that sort of “practice” wouldn’t fly in the UK or the US. I doubt it would ever happen in Germany, either.

  3. itrinkkeinwein says:

    Is this the same Ignacio García Belenguer-Laita who condoned Mortier’s defamatory comments about Jesús López Cobos, leading to a lawsuit?

  4. This is outrageous! In any business the buck stops with the Managing Director. If the opera house lost money, then ultimately Mr. Mortier is responsible, as he has the ultimate responsibility to assure that all payments are correct. To simply pass the blame onto subordinates only shows the arrogance of the classical music profession. When will the management of this so-called “business” start behaving like other industries, instead of an elite club for arrogant snobs and pretentious fakes. Mr. Mortier is sadly one of them. As pretentious as they come and as incompetent as well, irrespective of his past in various French theatres. A working experience in France is not something to advertise, but rather something to hide, as it certainly does not give one a good pedigree, but rather a strong lesson in bureaucracy and cultural arrogance, with an emphasis on outdated hierarchy and all the bad things that come with this uniquely French system of never seeing a subordinate as a colleague, but rather as a person to be used as a scape goat if necessary. A more ridiculous and unprofessional society in the arts field is hard to find. How Mortier even got the job is a mystery.

    • Whoa there, Roland! Those are pretty strong and inaccurate accusations you’re making about the Classical music world. If those in the Madrid opera company choose to act this way, it’s pretty reprehensible, but to paint the entire Classical music world with this brush is not to know that world in the least. Who are these “arrogant snobs” and “pretentious fakes”? Sure, there are some in our business just as in any field, but there are also very knowledgeable, sincere, dedicated people as well. In any case, to ask the music “business” to “behave like businesses in other industires” is to show a lack of understanding of how the Classical music does and should work. Most of the organizations are not-for-profit. As for Mortier, I can tell you stories (but won”t) of his tenure” at the New York City Opera, which would not surprise you given this story coming out of Spain. Maybe you can also explain what you imply by calling those in the Classical music world “unprofessional. In the world in which I work, the vast majority are highly and proudly professional.

      • Mortier had no tenure at New York City Opera.

        He did some advance planning work during a period when the company had no general manager or executive director, for which I believe he was paid as an outside consultant. He resigned before his term at the company actually started.

        The people responsible for the near-collapse of New York City Opera are the board members who engaged Gerard Mortier and then gave him for his first season only one-half of the budget they had promised him.

        • I should add that City Opera had been operating on the financial edge of the abyss off and on for many, many years.

          There were weeks when Beverly Sills went in to work on Monday needing to raise enough money to make payroll for the coming Friday.

        • I played some performances with the company when Mortier was there. He left before the following season began, but he was with the company for a few months. One can choose to call that a “tenure” or not. As for the budget promised to him by the board, it wasn’t half that they gave him (he asked for over $60 million and in the end they only came up with $40-something million. In any case, I agree with you that the demise of the company had everything to do with extremely poor decisions by the board (it’s not a near-collapse: it’s a collapse. It’s barely even a shadow of its former self).

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