Thirteen Singers Consider Legal Action Against Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

By Francisco Salazar

Thirteen singers are considering legal action against the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino after the company canceled a production of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” just six weeks before rehearsals.

In a letter to cast members dated March 21, 2023, Maggio wrote of the “situation of unpredictable emergency’ facing the Foundation stating ‘production costs (of Die Meistersinger) are no longer sustainable for the Foundation.”

As a result, a revival of “Falstaff” was announced as a replacement. Of the 17 original cast members for the Wagner opera, only four were brought on for the Verdi opera. The Foundation claimed to be “exercising the right to withdraw the current contract” due to force majeure, and therefore “has the right not to pay any compensation to the artist.”

In response to this letter, Tenor Paul Curievici, who was originally contracted to the production told Opera Now, “I have to work as much as I can within the EU regulations – most of my career is abroad. This would have kept my family with our heads above water for about four or five months. That’s what one of these projects means to us.”

The tenor also tweeted noting, “A few weeks ago Maggio Musicale cancelled a production of ‘Die Meistersinger,’ just a month before we were due to start rehearsals. They claimed their financial situation demanded it and craved our understanding. Then they rescheduled. ‘Falstaff.’ It’s a revival, so a little cheaper. But they have hired several famous singers. They took a couple of the ‘Meistersinger’ cast, but have brought in new singers for roles previously contracted performers could have taken. Today they have unilaterally withdrawn from the ‘Meistersinger’ contracts. They claim the future of the institution is at risk. They’re essentially claiming force majeure. But how could long-term financial mismanagement be unavoidable? They could have taken on more existing cast members. They could have reduced the ‘Meistersinger’ to eg a semi-staging. But they’ve chosen to spend more money on the basis they can then cut us all loose. Performers with dependents and agents who live off these fees. This is unacceptable.”

In the Opera Now report, Independent Society of Musicians Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said, “The reported treatment of musicians by Maggio Musicale Firenze is a shocking example of the precarious world in which so many professional musicians work – although unfortunately, it is far from unique.”

The cuts were made after the resignation of Alexander Pereira, former superintendent of Florence’s Maggio Musicale who is being investigated for fraud. The company is also attempting to recover an 8.5 million euro deficit by July 2023 and has thus far canceled productions of “Così fan Tutti” and “Le nozze di Figaro” in the autumn.