City Opera Seeks Federal Mediator

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Nearly a week after declaring an impasse in negotiations with its orchestra and chorus, New York City Opera is looking into getting a federal mediator involved. Dan Batchelder, the company's principal trumpeter, is encouraged by that move.

"We think it's a very positive, hopeful sign," he said. "We had offered mediation last month, and management wasn't interested in that. So now it sounds as though management may have re-examined their options and they're interested in coming to a deal, and that's all pretty good."

In a statement, Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for City Opera, said the company has "always been open to mediation and agreed to the union's request" -- even though a mediator has not yet been involved in negotiations.

At issue are wages and benefits for the performers, as the company struggles financially. City Opera has already abandoned its permanent home at Lincoln Center, citing financial concerns.

"We are absolutely aware of those concerns and we are very much committed to working together with management to secure the company's future," Batchelder said.

Both sides said they're willing to continue talks. Heller said the company will meet with the unions "at anytime, with or without a federal mediator."