The Opéra national du Rhin, faced with financial difficulties, reduces its programming

Faced with an increase in its expenses accompanied by a reduction in budgetary allocations, the Opéra national du Rhin (ONR) has decided to modify the current season at the margin, to avoid finding itself in a difficult financial situation. Two representations of Tale of Tsar Saltane, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, scheduled in May on the stage of La Filature in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), will be replaced by a single show in a concert version. Performing the staged version of this opera co-produced by La Monnaie (Brussels) and the Teatro Real in Madrid in two different venues was not “unsustainable” for the Alsatian institution, which is shared between the three cities of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse.

The assembly and dismantling of the sets designed by Dmitri Tcherniakov alone represents two weeks of work, at the expense of the ONR. Expenses that count today, alongside the fixed costs of payroll costs (the opera has 248 permanent employees), among the only management adjustment variables.

Created fifty years ago by local authorities, the Opéra national du Rhin is an inter-municipal syndicate which has a particular balance. Strasbourg hosts the choir, the design workshops for sets and costumes and the administration of the establishment; Colmar, the “opera studio”, its training structure; while the ballet, which became a national choreographic center in 1985, is based in Mulhouse.

Reduction in subsidies

Each of these cities provides its rooms (and its orchestra, for Strasbourg and Mulhouse). They also contribute to its budget, 23 million euros per year, supplied mainly by public subsidies, including 9.5 million from municipalities, 5 million from the State and 1.3 million from the Grand-Est region. . “These subsidies have stagnated for fifteen years, which poses a real problem because our fixed costs are increasing. We have been able to adapt so far, but 2023 will be very complicated”notes the director of the ONR, Alain Perroux.

The Opéra national du Rhin is not
responsible for the operation and maintenance of the buildings it uses

With the 3.5% increase in the salaries of the territorial public service, that of the price of energy and raw materials, the establishment saw its costs soar. At the same time, the cities of Strasbourg and Mulhouse have jointly decided to reduce their subsidies by 2.5%. “Our energy bill has doubled to more than 10 million euros, and the thawing of the index point is costing us 1.2 million. We couldn’t do otherwise without destabilizing the whole fabric of cultural associations and our major facilities. The ONR is a very solid structure, it was an effort that seemed realistic to us”, explains Anne-Catherine Goetz, cultural assistant for the city of Mulhouse. The ONR is not responsible for the operation or maintenance of the buildings it uses. However, their heating costs have skyrocketed.

The hall of La Filature, for example, which hosts both a national stage, the Orchester symphonique de Mulhouse, performances of the Ballet and the Opéra du Rhin, as well as a media library, has seen its gas bill multiplied by 2.5. That is an additional cost of 300,000 euros, which the city cannot cover in full. To remedy this, the manager has decided to completely close the building from December 11 to January 31, 2024, and does not rule out repeating such a closure the following season. It is up to the cultural actors to find other places of representation.

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The Opéra national du Rhin, faced with financial difficulties, reduces its programming

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