Faced with an explosion of protest about the way he appears to have sold Salzburg Festival operas to La Scala, Alexander Pereira has backtracked on some of his earlier statements. Is Milan to pay Salzburg "well over one million euros" (as he himself told the Salzburger Nachrichten), or was it more precisely €1.28m or €1.6m, as different newspaper reports have claimed? And are there six operas, or seven?
None of the above, it seems. In a new interview with the Salzburger Nachrichten Pereira explains more clearly how many operas and how much money is involved.
Salzburg, he says, has so far agreed only four operas will travel to La Scala, namely Die Meistersinger, Falstaff, Don Carlo and Lucio Silla - all from the 2013 Festival. The total price for these is between €650,000 and €690,000, and this amount will help shift some of the 2013 Festival deficit.
Some of these are not exactly 'sales', because La Scala will co-produce - meaning they bear a proportion of the production costs, then share in any future income from sales to other opera houses. Die Meistersinger is a co-production between Salzburg, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera and the Paris Opera. La Scala takes a 10% co-production stake in Lucio Silla, which is otherwise shared equally by the Salzburg Festival and the Mozarteum Foundation. For Don Carlo, costs and revenues are divided 75%/25% between Salzburg and Milan, resulting in a payment of €250,000 from Milan to Salzburg. Falstaff is the only straight sale, priced at €130,000.
For these four operas, "letters of intent" have been signed. These are legally binding, but are not full and final contracts. (The question of whether Pereira had the authority to sign these on behalf of La Scala remains - and if he didn't sign them, then who did?)
So what about the talk of six or seven operas? This relates to 2014 and 2015 productions about which there have been only negotiations, with no documents signed as yet. These possibilities are Rosenkavalier, Il Trovatore, Charlotte Salomon and Endgame. Any income the Salzburg Festival receives from selling these to La Scala will be accounted for in the year of the production, not backdated against the 2013 deficit.
Surprisingly, the Nachrichten says that both the Mayor of Salzburg and the Festival President have backed Pereira and his sales. That suggests neither believe his claim that he could have sold these productions for more elsewhere, which would have increased Salzburg's revenues. Or perhaps they just want to avoid any further embarrassment.