At the beginning of last year, the music world was still hailing him as the most generous donor of all times. More recently, however, he has been exposed to open and covert taunting and criticism. Alberto Vilar, who was born in Cuba and rose to a high-ranking investment consultant in New York, stepped into the limelight in Germany about two years ago. At the time, he supported the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden with a donation of 1 million deutschmarks, joining the circle of four German donors each of whom contributed the same amount. Shortly thereafter, Bayreuth and Berlin benefited from Vilar's generosity when he gave money to opera houses in both cities. Vilar, who is 61, has a special fondness for opera. During the past six months, however, dissatisfaction spread among actual and potential donees. Vilar, who had been utterly successful on Wall Street in the past, apparently made some miscalculations, resulting in his inability to follow through with several pledges. American opera houses are frustrated, and so is Vilar who has to realize that true love is not for sale. A commentary by Georg Hirsch.
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