Giorgio Brunetti

In search of economic balance in an opera house. The Teatro La Fenice case

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Before analysing the strategic choices that the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice has implemented in recent years, the essay reflects on certain assumptions that affect the economics of opera. After noting that opera production meets «market failure», because this activity can't achieve economic self-sufficiency - which explains why public and private sectors should support it by providing appropriate funding - it analyses the specific economic balance of an opera house, the proceeds attainable (contributions and box office) and the cost (permanent staff, cast, fixed expenses). The essay then identifies the strategies to pursue, depending on the context in which the institution operates, and finally it discusses the strategy of productivity - the optimal use of available resources - which integrates the traditional «seasons» (eight new productions a year) with repertoire (the revival of productions presented in previous years). This pattern has been successfully implemented by the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, thanks also to the tourist flow through the city of Venice, and can be a benchmark for many Italian opera houses which have recently required rescue packages from the state. Of course, this strategy can only be used as an adjunct to government and/or private grants, which are still of vital importance to opera theatres.


  • Opera House or Opera Theater
  • Production
  • Economic Balance
  • Strategy
  • Productivity
  • Government and/or Private Grants


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