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Opera Singer Attacks ‘Usurious’ Contract

An opera singer who claims that her father reached a ‘usurious’ agreement  on her behalf, when she was a minor, to pay a businessman a substantial part of her future earnings in return for a financial contribution to her musical training has fought off an application to have her committed to prison for alleged contempt of court.

The woman, who is a scholar of the Royal College of Music and has performed at Glyndeborne and Sadlers Wells, had fully complied with any obligation that she was under to disclose details of her professional earnings to the businessman and the committal application was ‘doomed to failure’, the High Court ruled.

Under a deal that the singer’s lawyers argue was struck on her behalf by her father in 1999, when she was aged 17 and living in her native Romania, the businessman claims entitlement to 35% of her earnings over any 10-year period of his choosing in consideration of a $6,900 contribution towards her music studies.

Now aged in her thirties, the singer tried to have the agreement overturned in her homeland but a Romanian court rejected her case in February 2009 and ordered her to pay the businessman’s legal costs. The Romanian court’s judgment has since been registered in England and Wales. However, dismissing the businessman’s arguments that the singer had failed to comply with undertakings to disclose comprehensive details of her income, the court ruled that the application to have her committed to prison was ‘wholly without merit’.