La Scala Intendant Stéphane Lissner was paid more (a lot more) than anyone else in Italian theatre last year. Whether you believe the 507,000 euros total quoted by La Scala itself or the 817,000 claimed by the Ministry of Culture, the figure (which covers 21 months from 30 November 2012 to 31 August 2014) dwarfs the 300,000 euros paid to his nearest rival Bruno Cagli, who heads up Santa Cecilia.
Lissner's compensation includes a bonus of 120,000 euros, plus 85,000 euros for renting an apartment. More surprisingly, part of a further amount of 177,338 euros is severance pay - even though Lissner is leaving of his own accord in 2015 to take over the top job at the Paris Opera.
Lissner's not the only one who's milking it. La Scala General Manager Maria Di Freda gets 270,000 euros. Even Lissner's replacement, Alexander Pereira, was handed 50,000 for 'collaborating with the Intendant in planning the 2015-16 season'.
Music Director Daniel Barenboim's salary of 112,000 euros (excluding conducting fees) looks positively paltry in comparison. As do the pay cheques of most Italian theatre bosses, who typically make do with salaries of 100-200,000 euros or less.
When the leadership delivers that sort of example, is it any wonder La Scala has so much union trouble?