Italy’s Classic Voice magazine has published a list of the current maximum fees paid by the Italian opera houses, and, surprisingly – though according to many singers I know, not surprisingly – the length of time that some artists have to wait to receive their payment.
€30,000 is currently the top for conductors such as Barenboim, Chailly, Whun Chung, Dudamel, Gatti, Harding, Mehta, Muti, Rattle and Thielemann. The same sum can go to soloists Pollini, Lang Lang, Radu Lupu, Kavakos and Sokolov.
The sum drops for the singers with a top of €20,000 for a concert and €17,000 for an opera performance going to Bartoli, Domingo, Fleming, Garanča, Kaufmann and Florez.
Directors receive up to €60,000 for a new production and the top names include Carsen, Bieito, Stein, Wilson, Vick and Michieletto.
However, some may have to wait to receive their cheque. If you are lucky enough to work at Teatro alla Scala, Santa Cecilia in Rome, La Fenice in Venice or the Teatro Massimo in Palermo you’ll get paid quickly. Working for other Italian theatres means that it may be necessary to wait months or years for your cachet: in Genoa about a year, in Florence nine months, at Rome between seven and nine months, two or three months in Bologna but, if you happen to have signed-up to a production in Cagliari you will have to wait… wait… wait for it… THREE years!