In Thursday’s (12/26) Newsweek, Elisabeth Braw writes that in Catania, Italy, “The Teatro Massimo Bellini—named after the Sicilian city’s most famous son, the bel canto opera composer Vincenzo Bellini—can’t afford to pay visiting artists or even its own musicians…. Florence’s Teatro del Maggio Musicale is seriously in the red, as are the opera houses in Rome, Bologna, Genoa, Parma, and Cagliari. In fact, reports Enrico Votio Del Refettiero, the influential writer who covers opera on the Luigi Boschi blog, only three Italian opera houses are currently able to pay their bills within two months: Milan’s La Scala, Venice’s La Fenice, and Turin’s Teatro Regio.… ‘They’ve been in financial trouble for a long time, but in the past they could simply go to the bank and get loans because the government would back it,’ explained Del Refettiero. ‘Now the banks’ supply of money has stopped.’… Though government cuts have delivered a serious blow, many have been too profligate in the past. And by playing it safe with staid productions they’ve failed to grow their audiences. Other European and North American rivals, by contrast, have branched out with multimedia initiatives, innovative productions, and social events for audiences.”

Posted January 2, 2014