Music: Crisis in Italy

For a production of Aida, the Rome Opera puts onstage 600 people, plus two chariots drawn by six horses each, plus two camels. For a production of Donizetti's Poliuto, it mustered 1,200 people and two lions. Such habits have saddled Italian opera companies with groaning annual deficits, which in recent history have been paid by the government. For weeks now, politicians, newspapers and plain opera lovers have been raising shrill voices in protest against a proposed cut in government opera subsidies.

In 1951 the government fixed the subsidy for Italy's twelve major opera houses* at 15% of all Italy's entertainment tax receipts...

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