Met Opera and Stagehands Reach a Deal, Allowing Season to Open on Schedule

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 12:00 AM

A worker unveils advertisement for future productions at the Metropolitan Opera. A worker unveils advertisement for future productions at the Metropolitan Opera. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Opera and the stagehands union have reached a deal on a new contract, ending the prospect of a work stoppage and assuring that the fall season will get underway September 22 with Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

The tentative deal, with IATSE Local One, was reached shortly after 3 am Wednesday, and is said to be comparable to the separate deals reached with the orchestra musicians, singers and dancers on Monday. The terms of the stagehands contract were not immediately available.

In a statement, IATSE international president Matthew Loeb called the deal "fair" but said reaching it "wasn't easy." He added, "after a summer spent negotiating, in these final hours we were able to craft an agreement that allows the show to go on and is fair for our members."

The agreement, which is still subject to ratification, includes mandatory cost reductions from management. It also calls for a third-party financial analyst, Eugene Keilen, to monitor the company's budget performance, a stipulation also included in the contracts with the other major unions, Local 802 and AGMA.

Contracts must still be completed with eight smaller unions representing behind-the-scenes Met workers. Talks are scheduled for Thursday and the parties have said they are confident that an agreement will be reached.

When talks are complete, 15 of the Met's 16 labor unions will have reached new contract deals, ending tense negotiations that had threatened to derail the 2014-15 season. The Met had extended a lockout deadline four times, including oncee for a week while Keilen examined the Met's books. The company says that season rehearsals and preparations for the season will now continue without interruption.


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Comments [10]

CastaDiva from New York, NY

@David from Flushing
I don't agree. Granted, opera is not to everyone's taste, but this is irrespective of age. Hearing me talk enthusiastically about opera, some of my younger co-workers decided to give it a try. One of them has since attended each season, taking his girlfriend with him, evidently to the great enjoyment of both. Others entered the Met's lottery, and got their intro. to live opera this way, some of them going on to repeat the experience by purchasing tickets. So I wouldn't write off young as people as those with limited attention span, as the Met's esteemed GM has done.If they enjoy the music, and the drama of opera, they will go.

Aug. 22 2014 04:43 PM
CastaDiva from New York

Why, however, limit the discount to the under 30 crowd?
Because, Martha, the Met claims that it needs to replace its ageing and dying audience with younger people. While I appreciate that others too, might wish to benefit from a discount, it made sense, given the Met's concern (which probably is a real one), to make these available to young people. In any event, the Met's Rush Tickets are currently open to all ages, with some set aside for seniors.

Re the new productions of some of the Verdi operas, yes, the Rigoletto, Traviata and Ballo have really no bearing on the actual operas as composed, and have made me and several others I know avoid them. And I dread to think that the Met might bring us Salzburg's current Trovatore, whose director's conceit is to have the characters perform as museum personnel who then morph into historical figures, i.e., the opera's characters.

Aug. 22 2014 02:32 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I have just heard from one of my colleagues at the MET OPERA that Peter Gelb does NOT care about opera, but HOLLYWOOD with its handsome men and good-looking women sets his sights for all whom he engages as performers, singers and dancers. For Gelb the singers' and dancers' talents are subservient to their appearance I was told today. That for me explains a lot.

Aug. 22 2014 12:25 PM

@ Martha --

Thunk! Sorry, I just fell off of my chair. Common sense? Ha-ha-ha.


Aug. 22 2014 02:21 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

We have some perceptive people blogging here on the WQXR venue. When I was a student at Juilliard and also at Columbia University, we were given score desk seats for one dollar so we could mark our scores with notations of phrasing, tempi and staging and incidentally partially see the stage at the old MET Opera House. For Broadway shows they have the TKS booth on Times Square that sells the same day performances for half price knowing that the likelihood is that otherwise those seats might very well be empty. As a Wagnerian heldentenor with many years of personal anecdotal experience,it was always a big boost to see a full house, a downer to see at intermissions many empty seats. From every point of view, performer, audience and management the "more the merrier."

Aug. 21 2014 06:15 PM
David from Flushing

If the Met offered all of its seats to the under 30 crowd for a free performance, I am not certain all the seats would even be occupied. Ticket price is likely not the main thing keeping the younger generation away.

Aug. 21 2014 06:02 PM
Martha Dudrow from Pawleys Island, SC

Good news indeed; no lockout as Mr. Gelb had been threatening; also good news that this agreement-even one that is still subject to ratification-- does not require all of the financial sacrifice to be borne by unions,and that the Met Management and Peter Gelb were required to also submit to cuts, and a closer examination of the books. There is hope. I still maintain that the company badly needs new artistic management at the top-- replacing Peter Gelb would be at the top of my list.
The idea you presented, CastaBrava,of selling unsold tickets at a discount on day of performance is a great idea; I cannot imagine why the Met has not done this already. Why, however, limit the discount to the under 30 crowd? ully I understand the need to expand the audience, attract more young people in but there are a number of folks (me included) who would love to see a live performance and would do so if it were a more affordable venture, At this point ANY ticket sold will be a benefit to the Met.
As for the new productions: why is a new production of "The Merry Widow" needed?? Some of tHe new productions defy logic and don't do a lot for the dramatic sense of the story, either (I am thinking in particular of the Las Vegas "Rigoletto", but there were others). The "Traviata" was not an unqualified thing of beauty, either. Much has been made of all of the poppies in "Prince Igor" so I will not belabor that issue but it is emblematic of the situation. Hopefully some common sense will prevail with the new financial scrutiny. Better to have a surviving, and eventually a financially healthy company than a whole raft of new productions with limited appeal. If the only people who see those are the General Director, and the first nighters, all of that money spent and efforts by all musicians and craftsman are for nought.

Aug. 21 2014 02:51 PM
CastaDiva from New York, NY

Yes, I'm relieved that a deal has been reached. A season sans opera would have been unthinkable.

But if the Met is in such dire straits, why does it continue to have such long seasons, especially as it cannot fill the House every night? Cut the season by some eight weeks, so that it starts in late October and ends in early April. And is it really necessary to produce 27 operas per season(the number offered this season)?

And if it wants to woo a younger audience why does it not offer unsold tickets at a discount on the day of the performance to the under 30 crowd? There is nothing like a live performance to hook a new audience.....the HD movies won't do it. It would surely be in the Met's interest to sell tickets at a discount than not sell them at all; and it would spare the audience the disheartening sight of rows and rows of empty seats.

Aug. 21 2014 01:54 PM
Rosanna from NYC

Wonderful news! Bravi to the negotiators!!!! And to the Met management: DO NOT import that Eurotrash production of "Tannhauser" set in a bio-mass factory-- nor anything similarly ugly and outrageous ... eh?

Aug. 20 2014 07:37 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

GOOD NEWS no matter what the terms of agreement for we will still have our MET OPERA !!! Resurrecting a curtailed operation as NASA has proved is extremely difficult. REJOICE, now we have something to sing about !!!

Aug. 20 2014 06:08 PM

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