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Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin: “Find a solution to compensate our artists appropriately.”

Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times

The musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra welcome the warm and strong support of Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin in his March 18, 2021 letter to the Orchestra. We wholeheartedly agree that the Board of the Metropolitan Opera must “urgently help to find a solution to compensate our artists appropriately.” Failing to do so would result in the loss of many more of our musicians and, by extension, the loss of generations of cultural history that have been passed down by our predecessors in this great orchestra.

Throughout the pandemic, we have put our audiences first by spearheading educational initiatives to underserved populations and by self-producing the MET Orchestra Spotlight Series — paid for out of our own pockets — despite having received no salary for a year. The Met musicians have made a strong public commitment to save the Met and revitalize New York City’s cultural landscape by voluntarily offering a temporary salary cut in a generous spirit of collaboration – especially considering we have been the only major orchestra to have been furloughed without any pay for a year.

While making this bold sacrifice, the Met musicians condemn the hard-line tactics of Met Opera General Manager, Peter Gelb, who has hired non-Met musicians and left the Met’s own artists unpaid; who has outsourced set construction to non-Met crews – including overseas; and who has publicly said “take it or leave it” time and time again. The Met musicians have been trying to negotiate with Met management for a year even while pay was cut off, so we are relieved to be starting this eight week period of negotiations. Any agreement moving forward must protect the livelihoods of those who bring the Met to life every day. We are hopeful that the Met is finally willing to thoughtfully consider our proposals and look forward to making significant progress in the coming weeks. However, we will not allow Met management to use the pandemic as an opportunity to extort major changes and cuts to our contract.

Over the past 10 years, the Met musicians have agreed to cut their salaries and benefits multiple times in order to save our beloved opera company. Now, as the musicians start to negotiate another contract we implore the Met to listen to Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin – “Protecting the long-term future of the Met is inextricably linked with retaining these musicians, and with respecting their livelihoods, their income and their wellbeing. This must be a priority for the leadership of this institution.”

You can read more from a recent article in the New York Times by clicking here.

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