Possible Strike Threatens City Opera’s Season

12/13/2011 11:28 AM |


The protracted negotiations between musicians and management at City Opera have broken down, sources tell the Post, which could lead to a strike by singers and orchestra. The company is set to bring La Traviata to BAM in eight weeks, followed by the premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna the following week. But those plans could be derailed. “This impasse is a deep disappointment to all of us,” George Steel, the company’s general manager, said in a statement. “But we hope the unions can put aside rancor and political theater and find a way to move forward—we need to do the work New Yorkers expect of us.”

Union members are worried the company wants to turn them into freelancers and severely cut their pay. City Opera’s budget has been reduced by more than half, thanks to declining revenues (based on bad programming decisions?) and rising debt (thanks to the financial crisis and poor management?). The company was forced to leave its long-time Lincoln Center home at the Koch Theater to become a nomadic company, whose itinerary includes the two stops at BAM this winter.

Last season, City Opera singers made $40,000 with health insurance; under the new plan, they would make a tenth that, with no health insurance. Steel took a salary cut, too—from $360,000 to $324,000 a year.