The Festival Internazionale Palermo Classica (the Sicilian-based Palermo Festival of classical music) has recently completed its third edition. It has sporadic events from June until August situated in some of the most glorious locations in the world. Last July, at the jaw-droppingly beautiful Taormina, pianist Valentina Lisitsa gave a recital, one for which, more than a year later, she has still not been paid.
The series of letters between her and the Festival directors are reproduced on her Facebook page. The reasons are typically Italian: they are waiting for the funding for the next season to pay their debts from the last. I, too, have waited for more than a year for payments from City Councils and Opera Houses. Once a month an email is sent off to jog their memories, and more often than not there is not even a reply. The ‘person responsable’ is never in the building at whatever time one ‘phones (which is, quite possibly, true!). Payment usually arrives at the same moment they call to book for the next season… a coincidence, no doubt. Having said this, there are other theatres, operating with the same funding system (a mix of state subsidy and private sponsorship) who pay immediately at the end of a performance.
Well Lisitsa, hearing that many of her colleagues were also awaiting payment, decided to cancel her announced appearance at this year’s festival. Norman Lebrecht, with his usual crusading spirit, has published a list of the other artists who have not seen a cent, which we republish here. Maybe the Palermo festival can be shamed into paying its debts:
Valentina Lisitsa – pianist
Francesco Attardi conductor
John Neschling – conductor
Janos Acs – conductor
Paul Badura Skoda – pianist
Catherine Manoukian – violinist
Gunter Neuhold – conductor
Martina Filijak – pianist
Miriam Genovese – flautist
Andrea Scarpa – – double bass
Roberta Trentuno – oboist
Sara Mescia – clarinettist
Guendalina Pulcinelli – violinist
Flora Maria Todaro – cellist
Ivana Calabrese – oboist
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.