New contracts at the Met

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John F
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New contracts at the Met

Post by John F » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:42 pm

The Met Opera and Two Unions Reach a Deal, Very Quietly
By Michael Cooper
Aug. 3, 2018

This time, it was pianissimo. Without the noisy rallies or vituperative broadsides that marked its last round of labor negotiations, the Metropolitan Opera and two of its biggest unions reached a tentative labor agreement Friday morning, paving the way for its season to open next month. If the deal is ratified, it will remove the threat of a work stoppage as the company prepares for its first season with the conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin as its music director.

This is a sensitive moment for the Met, which is trying to recover from the firing of James Levine, its longtime former music director, over allegations of sexual misconduct. The Met and Mr. Levine, who has denied the allegations, have sued one another. But in a break with past practice, neither the Met nor the two unions — Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the orchestra, and the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the chorus, singers and stage managers, among others — released the terms of the deal. So it was unclear how it would impact the bottom line of a company that is struggling financially and at the box office.

Representatives of the unions at the Met did not respond to emails seeking comment, and even members of the Met’s board were kept in the dark about the details, according to an email to the board from Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager. “Since the agreement is subject to ratification by the full membership of both union groups, we won’t be able to provide any details of the agreement until it has been ratified in the first week of September,” he wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
The Met has been struggling to fill its seats in recent years: it took in only 67 percent of its potential box-office revenue last season — near a record low. (Paid attendance, which includes discounted tickets, remained at 75 percent.)

Four years ago the Met’s unions agreed to their first pay cuts in decades to help put the company on more solid footing — but the cuts were less than half of what management had sought. It was unclear if the new tentative deal would raise or cut pay.

In a worrying sign, The Met’s credit rating was downgraded in May by Moody’s Investors Service Inc., which cited its “thin liquidity and the fact that it has not yet been able to reach its endowment fund-raising targets combined with ongoing labor costs pressures and capital needs.” In revising its rating to Baa2 from Baa1, it noted the company’s strengths, including donor support, but also weaknesses, including at the box office.

Another issue that the two sides have been discussing in recent years is ending the Met’s never-on-Sunday rules, which date to the days of blue laws but have become onerous in an era when audiences find it hard to squeeze in long operas on worknights. Mr. Gelb has said in recent years that he hoped to win agreement from the unions to begin performing on Sundays — as most Broadway shows and other leading opera companies do, but which is prohibitively expensive under the Met’s current contracts.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/arts ... -deal.html
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: New contracts at the Met

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:23 am

Just curious------

What has the MET not performing on Sundays to do with the Blue Laws? I thought they applied only to liquor and retail stores! Good grief! When NYCO was in Lincoln Center, they performed on Sundays during their entire season with no trouble from anyone.

I'm sad to see the Times confirm that the MET is having attendance problems. I've seen some fine productions during Gelb's reign on TV, but perhaps the public is not seeing great singing every night (tough to do), and is losing interest. It used to be that various opera companies here in NYC would serve as testing grounds for singers who would move up and join the MET. Now that NYCO and others no longer exist, it must be tougher for the MET to find quality singers with experience. Also the ageing of the audience and lack of music instruction in schools don't help.

Gelb is cannibalizing his in-house audience with the local HD transmissions which, however profitable, are sucking the audience away from the main stage in Lincoln Center. With our economy at its peak, I shudder to think of what might happen to audience levels if a recession happens.

Just think, in the past few years we have lost the New York Grand Opera (La Selva), Eve Queler's concerts in Carnegie Hall, NYCO in Lincoln Center, now a shadow of its former self, DiCapo Opera (bankrupt), Amato Opera, all professional level companies who could successfully discover and promote rising talent. All gone.

John F
Posts: 19610
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: New contracts at the Met

Post by John F » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:59 am

I'm sure it's nothing to do with blue laws, as New York's theatres have matinees every Sunday. The Met used to give concerts nearly every Sunday night, usually potpourris with its famous singers but occasionally a single large work; Toscanini conducted his first American Beethoven 9th and Verdi Requiem in these concerts. They became fewer over the years and then ceased in the 1940s - perhaps they became less popular. A quick look at the annals shows that complete operas were hardly ever done on Sundays, though complete scenes and acts sometimes were; excerpts were sometimes sung in costume.
John Francis

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