Some of the singers, such as La Scala soprano Barbara Vignudelli, are living only on water, fruit juice, and coffee. According to the Guardian, Vignudelli has lost 13 pounds.
Some singers have fasted for weeks; others rotate one-day fasts. Claudio Fantoni, a singer at Florence's Maggio Musicale, took in only three cappuccinos a day for two weeks.
The government, under prime minister Silvio Berlusoni, has proposed cutting $200 million per year over three years from the performing-arts budget. Nearly half of this budget goes to opera companies such as Milan's Teatro alla Scala.
Berlusconi also criticized La Scala for employing too many people.
Culture minister Rocco Buttiglione has threatened to resign over the cuts.