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

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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.