Cologne-based newspaper Express (a bit like our Express, with added t1ts) has trained its Thatcherite lens on the city's opera finances. High culture in Cologne is a huge loss maker, it rants - everyone in Cologne subsidises the entertainment of a few opera fans, many of whom don't even come from Cologne. And so on.
But there are a few interesting statistics tucked away.
An opera ticket in Cologne costs 10 to 90 € ("Aldi prices", sneer the Express, whose idea of a bargain clearly differs from most). The public subsidy from the city treasury is 165 € each (€ 50 million in total). Cologne's ticket prices are, they claim, the lowest of the major German opera houses, and the subsidy proportion is the largest.
They go on to quote a few comparisons. The Berlin Staatsoper charges 14-220 €, with a subsidy of 248 € per ticket. At the Hamburg State Opera tickets cost 9-158 €, and the subsidy is 114 €. The Bavarian State Opera in Munich charges 5-195 € and the grant is 90 €.
To compare with the UK, the most recent publicly-available annual accounts of ENO show it earned £9 million in ticket income for £18 million in grants (all those £10 Travelzoo offers....) The corresponding figures for the ROH are £35 million box office and £28 million in grants.