Lyric Opera Management Doubles Down On Its Demands

Today, Lyric Management sent what it called a "settlement offer" to the Orchestra musicians through a federal mediator. Management gave the musicians a grand total of six hours to accept it, or else it would be withdrawn.

The offer doubled down on every demand Lyric made in its last, best, and final offer. The only change is to offer to "guarantee" work the musicians already have. Lyric's offer is nothing more than a bogus PR stunt, and the musicians have no choice but to reject it.

As we have stated, Lyric has been demanding:

- Cutting the number of Orchestra musicians by eliminating five positions.

- Cutting the pay of the remaining Orchestra musicians by 8%.

- Cutting the number of Opera performances, hand-in-hand with cutting the number of working weeks for the Orchestra from 24 to 22.

- Eliminating all of Lyric's popular radio broadcasts.

None of that has changed with today's "settlement offer." The difference is that now, Lyric says it will promise to hire the Orchestra for certain work that occurs outside the main opera season. It's an empty gesture because Lyric was required to do that anyway.

Currently, the main opera season is 24 weeks. After the opera season is over, Lyric presents a musical, which typically runs for two to four weeks. The musical is profitable - thanks largely to the Orchestra musicians' agreement to accept much lower compensation than for opera - and is a fundamental part of Lyric's business plan.

In addition, every ten years or so, Lyric presents a "Ring Cycle" - four operas by Richard Wagner that are meant to be performed together in a series. Like the musicals, the Ring Cycle occurs after the main opera season is over, and is a bedrock programming element for every major opera company.

In short, after the opera season ends, Lyric programs several more weeks of either the musicals or the Ring Cycle, for which it is contractually required to hire the Orchestra musicians.

In today's "settlement offer," Lyric is reiterating its demand to cut the main opera season to 22 weeks, but says it is willing to "guarantee" an additional two weeks of musicals in the first and third years of the contract, and five weeks of the Ring Cycle in the second year. That way, Lyric can misleadingly claim it is "guaranteeing" 24, 27, and 24 weeks. But in reality, nothing has changed: Lyric is still demanding a 22-week opera season. The additional weeks Lyric is "guaranteeing" are weeks the Orchestra has always performed and would do anyway.

To put it simply: Lyric is offering to "guarantee" what the Orchestra musicians already have.

Lyric is not serious about settling the strike in such a way as to preserve its status as a world-class opera company. Anthony Freud's slash-and-burn agenda - cutting the number of musicians, cutting their pay, slashing the number of opera performances, and eliminating radio broadcasts - remains intact.

Related Articles View More Chicago Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You