Met Opera closes deal with Orchestra, paving way for reopening

The Metropolitan Opera has reached a working agreement with its orchestra, officials said on Tuesday, paving the way for its musicians t...


The Metropolitan Opera has reached a working agreement with its orchestra, officials said on Tuesday, paving the way for its musicians to return to work and the resumption of performances next month by the company, the largest arts organization in the spectacle of the country, having been closed for more than a year by the pandemic.

After months of uncertainty and sometimes controversial discussions, the Met said the players had ratified a labor agreement with the union representing the orchestra, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. Details of the deal, a four-year contract, were not provided. The musicians were due to return to work on Monday for their first official rehearsal since the pandemic closed the opera house in March 2020.

The deal ends months of tension over the significance of future salary cuts for musicians, who have gone for almost a year without pay during the pandemic.

“Members of the Met’s Big Orchestra have gone through Herculean challenges during the 16 months of the shutdown as we strive to keep the business intact,” Peter Gelb, chief executive of the Met, said in a statement. “Now we can’t wait to rebuild and get back to action.”

The group was the last of the Met’s three major unions to come to an agreement; without an agreement on a new contract for the orchestra, the Met probably would have had to postpone its reopening. Several small unions have not yet concluded agreements.

In a joint statement, Adam Krauthamer, president of Local 802 and members of the Met Orchestra committee said they were “delighted to return to regular performances very soon and look forward to reconnecting with our audience” .

Citing the staggering revenue losses from the pandemic and uncertainty about when its box office and donations would rebound, the Met had sought to reduce labor costs for its top-paid unions by 30 percent, claiming that the change in take-home pay would instead be 20 percent. He had proposed to reinstate half of the cuts when ticket revenues and basic donations returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The first of the unions to reach an agreement, the American Guild of Musical Artists – which represents choristers, soloists, dancers and stage managers, among others – obtained much lower wage cuts the management proposal; under the agreement, most types of union employees will initially see their wages reduced by 3.7 percent. But this deal saved the Met money, moving members of the Met Medicare to the Union, and reducing the size of the regular full-time choir.

This contract was to define the model of the level of savings expected in the agreements with the two other large unions, which represent the machinists of the Met and its orchestra. A provision in the Guild Agreement stated that if the other Unions made more favorable agreements, the Guild’s contract would be adjusted to be in line with them.

Along with news of the orchestra deal, the Met announced that the orchestra and choir will be giving two free performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” at Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center on October 4 and September 5, under the direction of Met musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and featuring soprano Ying Fang and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as soloists. (He also announced a new annual six-concert chamber music series at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.)

The Met will give its first performance at the opera on September 11 with a special concert of Verdi’s Requiem, to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks. The concert will be broadcast live on PBS, hosted by ballet star Misty Copeland.

The Met season is set to begin September 27 with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”, the first time the Met has staged an opera. by a black composer.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Met Opera closes deal with Orchestra, paving way for reopening
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