Statement by Joe Hartnett,

Assistant Dept. Director Stagecraft for I.A.T.S.E.


Metropolitan Opera Management’s Threat to Lock out Performers and Backstage Employees


We want the show to go on. Our bargaining teams are very serious about hammering out an agreement with opera management. Several negotiating sessions have been scheduled over the next week. Management and their legal team have drawn red lines through our contracts, but seem to have very little understanding about what items cost or even how the opera functions backstage.  This has slowed contract talks.


A lockout would be an opera tragedy, likely resulting in a lost season and a long-term loss of operagoers and subscribers for years to come. A lockout would not only leave theater seats empty in Lincoln Center — it would result in movie theaters going dark around the globe where the Met is simulcast.


Most of all, a lockout would be an indication of management’s failure to manage productions and manage negotiations. We all should be working together to save the Met, not locking out artists and shuttering this opera house.


Joe Hartnett, I.A.T.S.E’s Assistant Department Director of Stagecraft, is coordinating negotiations for the six IA locals at the Metropolitan Opera.




The manager has sent a letter his his employees, warning that he may shut the opera house down at the end of next week.

Salient sentence: ‘If we are not able to reach agreements by July 31 that would enable the Met to operate on an economically sound basis, please plan for the likelihood of a work stoppage beginning Aug. 1.’

The lockout would be the first in 34 years. This is a ma n who has learned nothing from Minnesota.



Union statement just in:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEWednesday, July 23, 2014
Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb Threatens Lockout, Cancellation of the 2014/2015 Opera Season;Orchestra Musicians Denounce Gelb’s Long-Planned Lockout as a “Cynical strategy to cover up his failed management and
lack of artistic vision

New York, NY–Wednesday, July 23, 2014Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra musicians are dismayed that Peter Gelb has pursued a cynical strategy calculated to result in a lockout of his artists and craftspeople and imperil the upcoming Met Opera season. His callousness, combined with his attempt to cover up his failed management and lack of artistic vision that has resulted in declining audiences and plummeting ticket sales, jeopardizes the livelihoods of his employees and the many businesses in New York City’s cultural sector and the Lincoln Center area that depend on the Metropolitan Opera for their incomes.

For months, Gelb has purposely refused to provide essential financial information that would have allowed substantive, good-faith negotiations to proceed, instead making erroneous claims in the press in the run-up to his long-planned lockout.

If the Met in fact is facing financial difficulties it is due to Peter Gelb’s lavish overspending on productions that have been poorly received by critics and audiences. At the initial negotiating session scheduled for this Friday, July 25th, the musicians plan to propose ideas that would allow the Metropolitan Opera to realize over $20 Million in cost-savings and avoid draconian cuts to its artists. That Peter Gelb would announce the prospect of a lockout before the start of negotiations with the musicians, choristers, stagehands and other segments of the workforce is indicative of his disrespect for his audience, his artists and the City of New York.

The loss to the City’s economy as a result of a lockout will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars – first, the $327 million that the Met spends on salaries, sets, costumes and on many other vendors/services will be lost; on top of that, the losses to restaurants and hotels, especially those in the immediate vicinity of Lincoln Center, will be devastating given that the Met has 3,800 seats and its audience represents a high proportion of local restaurant and hotel patronage during the opera season.

Peter Gelb should engage in good-faith negotiations with the intent of salvaging the upcoming season rather than moving to arbitrarily shut down the iconic and beloved Metropolitan Opera.



For twenty-five years, in all forms of media, I have argued that London’s Royal Festival Hall is not fit for purpose as a classical venue. Over that period some £200 million of public money have been pumped into futile upgrades. The hall operators are presently asking for more.

Sometimes I felt like a voice in a wilderness as the entire classical establishment chorussed the glories of the hall.

So it’s nice to find a kindred spirit in Max Hole, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group International, who has just said on Classic FM: ‘Going off to the Royal Festival Hall and seeing a wonderful concert of music where the lighting was like the accident and emergency unit of a hospital.

‘There were no screens to show the musicians up close, the conductor had his back to you, he didn’t speak to you. I thought this was all wrong.’

So true. The RFH is a misery shed of browns and yellows, too much distance between stage and public and visually null.

Max is right. Get rid of it.

You can listen to his comments here.


It’s Paris, 1968, and they are lots of young women in the audience.

Whatever became of the girls in the orchestra stalls?

audience pic


Click the word ‘Post’ if video does not pop up.


A richly deserved award for David Pountney, marking ten years as adventurous director of the Bregenz Festival. 

david pountney

Press release:


Welsh National Opera’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director, David Pountney, has been awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class. He was presented the award by the President of the Republic Heinz Fisher in a ceremony which took place in the opening of the Bregenz Festival.


The award honours Austrians and foreign leading figures who have “distinguished themselves and earned general acclaim through especially superior creative and commendable services in the areas of the sciences or the arts” and is conferred by the Federal President.


This year marks David Pountney’s last year as Artistic Director of the Bregenz Festival, a position he has held since 2004.


David Pountney says, “It is a great honour to be recognised by a State which has such an astoundingly rich cultural inheritance. I have worked on various Austrian stages from the Wiener Staatsoper to Linz whose new opera house opened with my production of Philip Glass’s new opera “Spüren der Verirrten” last year, but my main focus has been on the Bregenz Festival where I made my debut in 1989, and have enjoyed 10 marvellous years as Intendant since 2004.”


David Pountney has already been made a Commander of the British Empire and a Chevalier in the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres and was last year presented with the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit for his contribution to the promotion of Polish culture.


Lawrence Johnson has news of the closure of Boston’s Discovery Ensemble.

Founded in 2008 by the young British conductor Courtney Lewis and a musicologist, David St George, it aimed to draw high school and university students into playing in a classical orchestra.

Unfortunately, there weren’t enough donors around to sustain it. And Courtney’s gone on to greater things. Read Larry’s story here.

courtney lewis

The violinist joins an ever-lengthening line of stress and fracture victims.

Her issue? An inflamed muscle.

Her agents have told festivals it will keep her out for six weeks.

hilary hahn

A state visit by the Chinese president is something that brings out the best in most countries.

Not Venezuela, apparently.

President Xi Jinping was greeted by a rendering of the Chinese national anthem that, by the look on his face, made him want to turn back ad fly home. Just watch. As millions are doing in China.

president xi venezuela

This might not normally make the news but on a national day of mourning in the Netherlands it is warming to report that Harriet Krijgh has been awarded the soloists prize at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival.

Previous winners include Daniel Hope and Julia Fischer. Go, Harriet!

harriet krijh

It’s being awarded to Graham Johnson, the most dedicated follower of singers in Lieder – and sometimes leader of singers in Wolf.

Graham., 62, came to London at 17 from the former Rhodesia, accompanied Peter Pears’s masterclasses at Aldeburgh and founded The Songmakers Almanac. He has recorded all the major Lieder cycles and is regarded as the linear heir to Gerald Moore.

graham johnson

The singer has just issued this statement:



domingo maazel


I am deeply saddened by the death of Lorin Maazel, one of the most significant conductors of his generation. His brilliant mind, which allowed him to conduct a vast repertoire, was known to everyone in the world of classical music, and he was as much at home in the opera house as in the concert hall – not to mention the fact that he was an accomplished violinist and composer.


I had the opportunity to work with him on many occasions that were important to me in my career – first in the recording studio, especially in several Puccini operas, and then in the theater, beginning with a memorable series of performances of Verdi’s Luisa Miller at Covent Garden in 1979. We did La Fanciulla Del West at the Teatro alla Scala. He also conducted the sound tracks for the film versions of Carmen, directed by Francesco Rosi, and La Traviata, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, in which I participated.


Lorin will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him, and I extend my deepest condolences to Dietlinde, his wife, and to his children.