Tony Pappano's widely-criticised £630,000 Royal Opera House salary looks a bit of a bargain compared with Christian Thielemann's pay as Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.
Recently released statistics reveal Thielemann earns €800,000 (~£680,000). This makes him Munich's highest-paid public servant, easily trumping Munich's mayor (€153,921).
What does Munich get for its massive outlay? For a start, Thielemann conducts around 10 separate programmes a year in around 40 concerts, including touring. Programmes have to be repeated three or four times to cope with demand. Plus there's all the usual music director stuff - programming, marketing and so on. That all adds up to a significant workload - but not quite a full time job. He still manages to fit in conducting slots with the Vienna Philharmonic and of course Bayreuth.
Pappano's workload is roughly 4 operas over 30 or so performances, which sounds less onerous until you factor in rehearsal time and the greater length of an opera programme. On top of that, as de facto artistic director of Covent Garden, he bears a greater non-conducting burden than many music directors. Pappano too finds time for the odd guest conducting slot, TV series, etc - not to mention heading the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia orchestra.
But at this level, it's not about the hours spent at the rockface. It's about quality - natural talent, sweat-honed skill and most of all, inspiration. Bureaucrats are interchangeable. Abundantly gifted conductors are few and far between.