It seems €1.2m for the orchestra and €135,000 for the conductor isn't enough for eight nights' work from the Berlin Philharmonic. After their not-so-surprise defection from the Salzburg Easter Festival to the more remunerative Festspielhaus Baden Baden from 2013, the race has been on to fill their shoes. Now it looks as if the obvious choice (and favourite of the highly influential patrons' association) may be about to sign a deal.
Christian Thielemann isn't just popular with audiences generally - important when up to 20% of Festival seats have remained empty in recent years. He's also a former protege of the Festival's founder, Herbert von Karajan, and a fellow torchbearer for the traditional Austro-German repertoire done in the traditional Austro-German style.
These points weigh heavily with the patrons, a surprisingly large number of whom have visited year after year, some going right back to the Karajan days. The press are fond of characterising the Easter Festival audience as wealthy and clueless, but the few I've met on my own visits have been passionate and knowledgeable music lovers, albeit of unadventurous tastes.
What's more, the orchestra Thielemann would bring is the Dresden Staatskapelle, who, unlike the Berlin Philharmonic, perform opera regularly in their role as house band for the Semperoper Dresden. After a degree of criticism for the Berliner's role in this year's Salome, this experience wouldn't come amiss.
The main sticking point is Thielemann's pre-existing commitment to conduct a new production of Lohengrin in Vienna around Easter 2014. Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal - conductor drops out with three years' notice, just get another conductor.
The problem in this case is that the shelving of Barrie Kosky's fairly recent (and admittedly hideous) production to make way for the new one is largely at Thielemann's instigation. Had he been willing to tolerate the inanities and ugliness, it's conceivable Vienna wouldn't have gone to the expense of a new show.
Yes, they really want him that much, as Franz Welser-Möst confirmed last week. In Vienna, a star conductor means as much as a star singer might elsewhere. Whether Welser-Möst will be satisfied with a Rosenkavalier instead, as rumoured in the Austrian press, remains to be seen.