Paris Opera’s shift to more salaried performers, fewer freelancers, may reflect broader international trends

Posted on: April 5, 2022

Alexander Neef took over “as director of the Paris Opera … just as the longest strike in the company’s history was morphing into the worst global pandemic in a century,” writes Alan Riding in Thursday’s (3/31) New York Times. “For the public, … the least exciting aspect of Mr. Neef’s strategy is to stem the Paris Opera’s losses by the 2024-25 season…. He … has some innovative, albeit simple, ideas. For instance, he prefers not to have the Paris Opera’s two large theaters—the Palais Garnier and the Bastille Opera—resemble ‘permanent festivals,’ with splashy productions that are never revived…. The 2022-23 season … also embraces an interesting change in emphasis…. Taking his inspiration from many German opera houses, he plans to create a troupe of 15 to 20 professional singers who will be on salary (and not work as freelancers, as most soloists do) and will take on all but the biggest roles. Mr. Neef said he believed that greater job stability had become more appealing to cast members over the past two years…. ‘The attraction of going to a new city every few weeks is not as high as it used to be,’ he said.”