Frankfurt is hit by Rheingold strike

It’s normally Paris where you face wildcat strikes at the Opéra, but this season Frankfurt is the labour-relations black spot.

Friday’s Rheingold will be performed unstaged, though the company has not yet finalised how it will look.

Over Easter, Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine was sung in concert dress after backstage staff walked out.

 

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  • There is no special reason why Frankfurt is at the centre of this particular story. Currently the public service unions are engaged in pay negotiations with the employers. Since the employers still haven’t made a specific offer to people working in public services (and in Germany that covers a very wide range of occupations, from technical support staff in theatres and public places of entertainment to those who collect household waste and operate public transport) the unions are staging unannounced “warning” strikes in different parts of the country to apply the necessary pressure. This whole ritual is actually very operatic. Both sides spend weeks talking and talking, the employers say there is no money in the kitty (though if MPs want an increase in their salaries that always goes through on the nod), there are weeks of strikes to show the employers that the workers mean business and finally, after much disruption, there is a negotiated pay increase which both sides then hail as a triumph of commonsense.

  • In the United States those who want to be in solidarity will not “cross a picket line” to put even more pressure on employers by essentially boycotting the business. Does that apply in Germany? Are patrons and the audience expected to boycott the opera and theater while the workers are on strike?

  • In Estonia, musicians are trained and taught to swallow the insults from the authorities, even it’s been running as an individual after the Soviet Union’s period for over two decades already, the youths are also thinking in such mentality. I heard from some singers that foreign singers are mistreated, but none of them would fight back, cause nobody will help, and usually they have to swallow it if they still want to work there.

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