We have now been unpaid for 10 months and counting. The Metropolitan Opera is an outlier in our industry; every other major orchestra has been compensated since the very beginning of the pandemic. Met management is using the pandemic opportunistically. They are not seeking a short-term crisis-plan to balance out pandemic circumstances. They are seeking permanent cuts. The cuts they seek are so deep that the orchestra would need unrealistic salary gains over the next quarter-century just to get back to current salaries.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the orchestra has repeatedly expressed its willingness to allow the Met maximum financial flexibility during this crisis and has offered to collaborate in order to find ways to safely perform and engage with our audiences. Repeatedly, Met management has rejected these offers. The orchestra has made a comprehensive proposal that provides substantial savings to the Met for three years, but they have yet to respond to our proposal, while continuing to insist that they will not consider anything but permanent changes to our contract.
After seeing the promotional video for the MET Stars New Year’s Eve gala in Germany, we are deeply disturbed to see that they have outsourced a string ensemble of non-MET Musicians (again). Our own concertmaster spoke out about this in November when he encountered a large banner featuring non-MET Musicians after cleaning out his locker (link).
There is no reason why these gala events need to take place in Europe. There are star singers on American soil too (examples: Matthew Polenzani and Angel Blue – both flown to Germany for the Met gala – also Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, Isabel Leonard, Christine Georke, Eric Owens, to name a few…) and we can work together to showcase the Met, while helping each other in the process. This does not need to be so financially devastating to the orchestra, nor so contentious and heartless — that is the choice of Met management.