The opera house that is suing its musicians for $15 million

Classical music in South America (Venezuela honourably excepted) seems to be a long-running series of shootouts.

In Brazil they force musicians to re-audition for their jobs and fire those who don’t.

In Ecuador, they are trying the same gambit.

But nothing beats the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, which is suing seven musicians for the losses of an unending strike – in reality a lockout by the government-backed house administration. Placido Domingo has refused to sing there again until the matter is resolved.

Here’s the latest dispatch I’ve received.

Dear Norman:

Last week Teatro Colón’s director García Caffi added 8 million pesos to  the 55-million pesos lawsuit against 8 artists, demanding $63 M ($15 million US dollars) from 4 musicians, 3 choir members and the photographer, in compensation for the performances cancelled by the Director during our strike for better salaries and working conditions.

We had a hearing at the Court yesterday. García Caffi did not attend this hearing. The Buenos Aires city government (counseled by a private firm, because the official BA government lawyers declined this case months ago) dropped the lawsuit. Even though this can be considered the beginning of a good faith agreement between the City and its employees, no progress at all has been made in our demands. Teatro Colón’s director has made substantial discounts to the musicians’ salaries in the past three months (in compensation for the strike) and the administrative sanctions haven’t been dropped. Even though we signed an agreement not to stop performances at the last minute, we will keep demanding better salaries and working conditions, and all sanctions and discounts should be dropped. We’ll keep you updated.

Here‘s a translated news report from Tiempo.

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  • How sad it is….I played at Teatro Colon on 1997., what a wonderful place for music and musicians!!! And now….all our hearts are with Argentinian musicians….they need their friends, Barenboim, Argerich, Domingo…

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