Readers familiar with the pages of Opera Canada will know how many Canadian artists make their careers within Europe’s system of state-subsidized opera companies. But even at these well-funded organizations, there is considerable financial concern over the continued openings and closings of theatres due to the pandemic. As major major houses in Vienna and Dresden go dark again, Oper Frankfurt’s Intendant Bernd Loebe has issued a statement outlining the very real financial repercussions plaguing opera company leaders throughout the world.
In a press conference on November 30, 2021, Minister-President of the German State of Heseen, Volker Bouffier called for cultural institutions to be closed as a protective measure to combat the worsening spread of coronavirus in Germany. In a letter written to Bouffier, Oper Frankfurt‘s Intendant Bernd Loebe has expressed deep worry over the potentially disastrous consequences the move could have on opera including the entire system being at risk of collapse.
Bernd Loebe is calling for Bouffier to differentiate between recreational facilities and cultural facilities, and reassess the extensive protective measures already in place at cultural facilities based on well thought-out hygiene concepts and scientific findings.
“Closing the theatre would have devastating consequences,” said Loebe in his letter. “Last time we were closed we lost 6,000 subscription holders and this would grow. This means that the opera is losing a crucially fundamental reason for its existence, a solid customer base which forms the basis for its financing.”
Loebe is asking the Minister to be courageous and sensible in differentiating his decisions about what really contributes to fighting spread and what does not. In his letter, he says “Please do not destroy what we have built up over decades. At the end of the day, this is about an opera company whose quality and reputation extends far beyond Hessen.”