The Fat Lady Is Singing

  • Share
  • Read Later
In his best-selling book on the state of the French bureaucracy, Roger Fauroux asserts that France has chosen the "Paris Opera system" as its social model. "Who pays for the Opera?," writes Fauroux, a former CEO of Saint-Gobain, director of France's famous Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA) and a minister under François Mitterrand. "Not the wealthiest — they get invited. Opera lovers, whether well-off or not, pay only a part of what it takes to put on a spectacle. The rest is financed by the state budget — that is, by taxes gleaned from the middle classes and business owners, who get nothing from the Opera. Should anyone dare to question this system, unions and performers are called to the rescue to make sure it survives. That's the way it is: the indirect and opaque robbery of the weak to finance the leisure of the rich has become an acquired right protected by all conservative forces. And it is this that we call 'popular opera.'"