La Scala opera house heads take 10% cut

The head of Milan's La Scala opera house and the world famous conductor Daniel Barenboim have taken a 10 percent salary cut to help slash the company's debt, Italian media reported.

After several years of culture budget cuts, imposed as a debt-laden Italy struggles to fend off the eurozone crisis, 11 department heads, including the choral and ballet directors, have also agreed to take the 10 percent cut.

"This will not resolve the economic situation but it sends a clear message: we want to find every solution possible to support the theatre, in this moment of uncertain financial stability," Scala head Stephane Lissner said.

Lissner, who took up his post in 2005, saw his contract renewed on Monday for another five years. He is reported to earn around one million euros a year.

The Israeli-Argentinian Barenboim, who took up the post of musical director at the opera in December, has given up 10 percent of his fee.

Milan's left-wing mayor, Giuliano Pisapia, who is also the Scala's president, is thought to have pushed hard for the directors to take a cut.

Since Lissner took over at the helm, the number of Scala performances have doubled and takings have shot up from 15 million to the 32 million euros forecast for 2012, despite the dramatic cuts in state and regional funding.

The opera house's debt this year is forecast to drop from 7.0 million euros to 4.5 million euros thanks to sponsors, savings and the rise in takings.

However, "public funding continues to drop, putting the theatre and its artistic production at risk, both in terms of production quality and quantity," said Lissner, who has called on the government not to sacrifice culture, which can "help people" pull through the economic crisis.


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