Money at the root of IPO opera troubles [pg. 24]

For the first time in 69 years the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) has elected to cancel a series of forthcoming concerts because of a financial dispute over the copyright of Francesco Cilea's music for the opera "Adriana Lecouvreur." According to Dalia Meroz, spokesperson for the IPO, the decision to pull out of the five performances, scheduled for May, was made after Italian publishers SONZOGNO demanded a sum in excess of NIS 400,000 for the privilege of using this rare score of music - a price, she claims, is over 12 times the market value. Meroz told The Jerusalem Post that despite numerous protests and legal investigations into the matter, SONZOGNO had refused to reduce the amount being asked, adamantly insisting that there was no room for compromise on this issue. Insisting that other orchestras around the world such as the New York Philharmonic had also commented that the demand was excessive, Meroz said, "Not only is it a real shame for us that we won't be performing this wonderful music, but they are also losing out." General Director of the IPO, Avi Shoshani, noted that his initial reaction to the situation had been one of "shock," adding that in all his 30 years of professional involvement, the IPO had never received such an exaggerated request. Representing SONZOGNO in Israel, Mandy Feingers of the Israel Music Association told the Post that the IPO's version of events is inaccurate and their claims without merit. The price requested, he said, was approximately NIS 300,000, including VAT. This figure, he maintained, is still a fair amount, evaluated in accordance with the projected income the IPO would accrue from the concert run (about NIS 800,000 per concert). "The IPO also created programs and sold tickets without even consulting us first," said Feingers. "They were not willing to negotiate at all." The opera in question based on the drama "Adrienne Lecouvreur" by Eug ne Scribe and Ernest Legouve was first performed on the 6th November 1902 after Italian writer Arturo Colautti had offered the libretto to Cilea (1866-1950).