Rome Opera signs deal to save musicians’ jobs

Rome's debt-ridden Opera said on Tuesday it had saved the jobs of its choristers and musicians by signing a deal with trade unions which includes pay cuts and a pledge to end strikes.

Rome Opera signs deal to save musicians' jobs
A 2012 dress rehearsal at the Opera Theatre in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

The deal, signed overnight, aims to save €3.0 million a year by cutting overtime pay and bonuses and boosting productivity, and includes a promise by unions not to strike over issues linked to the deal.

"This is a victory for the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma," the opera's superintendent, Carlo Fuortes, said in a statement, praising the seven unions representing the musicians and staff for "shouldering responsibility".

The opera house, housed in a 19th-century building in the centre of the Italian capital, had vastly expanded its international reach over the last decade or so.

But it was plagued by bad management and debt, which led to mass ticket cancellations this year, putting its very future at risk.

The Opera's management presented a plan in July to save the company, which was approved in September by some 460 employees.

But after a few tense months during which two of the smaller unions continued to threaten to strike, primary conductor Riccardo Muti threw in the towel, saying that after six years in the job there was no longer the "necessary serenity" to lead successful productions.

The management announced in October that 182 choristers and musicians would be fired and hired back as freelancers during the opera season, a threat which forced the unions back to the negotiating table.

Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino welcomed the new deal and said he hoped that "in time", 73-year-old Muti could be persuaded to return.

In the meantime, Verdi's Aida, which the Neapolitan native was set to conduct to open the season on November 27th has been cancelled and replaced with Dvorak's Rusalka, conducted by Norway's Eivind Gullberg Jensen.

READ MORE: Muti quits Rome opera amid funding issues

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Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.