Royal Opera House salaries under scrutiny

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UK opera company defends its highest earners

The salaries of the Royal Opera House (ROH) chief executive, Tony Hall, and conductor, Antonio Pappano, have come under scrutiny after it was revealed they earned more than £1m between them. Hall is thought to earn £390,000, while Pappano notches up £630,000. 

Details of staff pay appeared in a recent annual report, and although Hall and Pappano weren't named in person, it hasn't been denied by the ROH that this is what the pair earn. They're thought to be among the highest paid individuals in the publicly funded arts world.

‘People will be shocked at the salaries of these people,’ said the Liberal Democrat MP and arts spokesman, Don Foster, in The Sunday Times. ‘I think the Opera House board should take another look. Its chief executive’s salary is three times that of the prime minister.’

Hall is thought to earn twice as much as Sir Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre, and almost three times the wage of Loretta Tomasi, chief executive of the English National Opera.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Front Row, chairman of the ROH, Simon Robey, defended the pay packets. Antonio Pappano has ‘a very specific peergroup', he said, who are ‘a handful of world class conductors’, adding that the Metropolitan Opera’s counterpart earns ‘very materially more’.

However questions have been asked as to whether an organisation that uses public funding – the ROH currently gets £28m a year from the Arts Council – should be more transparent about its salaries. Robey pointed out during the BBC programme that although wages are high, the funding received from the Council has dropped from 40 per cent to 25 per cent in the past to years. 'I strongly believe,' he said, 'as do my colleagues, that our leadership team… is fairly and appropriately paid.'

Bethan Ball