The Metropolitan Opera will play on Sundays

The Metropolitan Opera will play on Sundays


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2018

The union deal reached last month includes a sweeping away of a particularly irksome restraint. From 2019, the Met will give performances on Sundays.

Here’s the unedited union statement:

New York – Friday, September 14, 2018 – — The two major musical unions at the Metropolitan Opera, the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802, AFM and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) announce the approval of a new contract with the institution, pending final ratification on Monday by the AGMA Board of Governors.

The unions represent several categories of workers at the Met, including the Regular and Associate Musicians of the MET Orchestra and Music Staff and Assistant Conductors, represented by Local 802, and the AGMA-represented Chorus, Soloists, Stage Managers, Stage Directors, Staff Performers, Dancers, and Choreographers. The joint statement is as follows:

“We, the musicians and musical artists of the Metropolitan Opera, believe in the future of opera and are deeply committed to collaborative efforts to guarantee the stability and artistic vibrancy of the Met. Throughout this process, we have worked to achieve a favorable economic agreement, including compensation and benefits improvements, that support artistic excellence and help to ensure that musicians are able to live, work, and raise a family in this great city. Demonstrating a continued willingness to invest in the Met’s long-term stability, we have agreed to add Sunday performances, which we recognize will reach new audiences, while also securing important protections and improvements that will safeguard artists’ worklife balance. Additionally, going forward, musicians will have a stronger voice at the Met as members of the continuing Efficiency Task Force, a newly-created Artistic Advisory Committee, and a new Public Engagement committee tasked with exploring innovative ways to creatively interact with fans, increase revenue, and modernize the institution. We are heartened by the fact the Met is prioritizing the artists who bring grand opera to life for audiences around the world, and look forward to an artistically vibrant season.”

“The Metropolitan Opera’s product is the talent of its skilled musicians and musical artists, who consistently deliver excellence with every performance, both on stage and in the pit,” said Tino Gagliardi, President, Local 802 AFM, “This summer, the committees negotiated a favorable economic package that will allow the Met to maintain its high standard of musical excellence, balancing compromises made to ensure the institution’s long term viability with protections for hard-working musicians. The musicians of the MET Orchestra can now turn their attention to bringing the joy of grand opera to New Yorkers and visitors from around the world.”

“We are delighted to have reached agreement with the Metropolitan Opera through a collaborative and mutually beneficial process. Our respective negotiating committees worked tirelessly throughout the summer to ensure that all Artists in every category were heard and achieved improvements in benefits and working conditions,” stated Leonard Egert, National Executive Director of AGMA. “Recognizing that a safe and supportive environment is imperative to rehearsing and performing at the highest level, we created an innovative process for the unions’ direct involvement and input into preventing sexual harassment and discrimination which have no place at the Met.”

“Every member of the MET Orchestra has devoted their lives to their craft, their artistry and their musicianship. This agreement exemplifies that commitment by ensuring that the Metropolitan Opera we all know and love is well positioned to thrive artistically for years to come,” said Jessica Phillips, clarinetist and chair of the MET Orchestra Committee, “Throughout negotiations, preserving the high artistic standards that have made the Metropolitan Opera among the most important opera companies in the world was the foremost priority. This agreement further empowers musicians and artists by expanding our ability to partner with the Met and be of help in areas related to financial efficiency, artistic evolution, and audience outreach. We believe that the future of the Met Opera is bright and and we’re looking forward to the exciting new season ahead, particularly as we welcome our new Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.”

“This summer, recognizing that Sunday performances are integral to reaching new audiences, we agreed to a major adjustment to our professional and family life, introducing Sunday matinees to the Met Opera schedule beginning in the 2019-20 season,” said Ned Hanlon, chorister and chair of the Met AGMA Committee, “We have been able to balance this with base pay increases and improved benefits, as well as protections to ensure that we, the artists of the Met, will still have time to spend with our families, restore our minds and bodies, and prepare to be at our best throughout the rigorous season.”


  • George says:

    This statement is almost as long as „Anna Karenina“. London, Milano, Vienna or others…they all play on Sundays, no?

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Well, this is good news! Sunday afternoon is prime concert/opera/performance attendance time!!

    They can deep six Monday night performances in favor of Sunday. Who wants to go to the opera after a full day at work on Monday?

  • Caravaggio says:

    This is just Gelb seeking favorable publicity and some level of redemption as the Met has gone radio silent on the Levine scandal perhaps hoping it will all go away quietly on its own and with impunity for Levine enablers such as himself, preceding GMs, and members of the board. Rich. That said, how is operating on Sundays going to save the Met money and increase audiences and revenue? Ever heard of time-and-a-half pay for weekend and holiday labor? If the Met administration were serious about increasing badly needed revenue they would abolish the HD transmissions once and for all. Or at least in the tri-State area which is probably from where their largest audience in attendance in the auditorium comes from any day.

    • MacroV says:

      I knew someone would look for a way to bash Gelb. The lack of Sunday performances has been a big issue at the MET for years, maybe decades. This is a very welcome development. As for time-and-a-half, I didn’t read the press release enough to see if that was addressed, but Sunday performances are standard practice around the world, so I imagine the MET can figure that one out.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Oh and they would hire better singers (as much as that is possible any longer).

  • Petros Linardos says:

    This posting is so unlike others on the MET at Slipped Disc: what has Peter Gelb done wrong this time?

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      Carravagio has had a go but even he is struggling with this one. His cut and paste swipe at singers just added lest we forget.

  • anon says:

    Why such a long statement? It’s so defensive in tone and in content for a decision that is supposedly so good for everybody, as though everybody felt it necessary to justify their decision to their constituents.

    The answer is obvious, even as other opera houses have been putting on Sunday performances for a while: it is putting the interests of the consumers ahead of those of the producers.

    Whose sunday is worth more? The stagehand’s sunday or the customer’s sunday? The singer’s sunday or the banker’s sunday? The musician’s sunday or the doctor’s sunday?

    I am sure the conductor would love to consult his lawyer on sunday, do you think the lawyer is going to have sunday office hours?

  • MacroV says:

    This is actually a big thing for a lot of orchestras, if not opera houses. Musicians understandably want some time off at the same time normal people do, but that’s the time when people are able to come to hear performances. So you have a lot of orchestras (in the US and overseas) that play, say, Thursday to Saturday. No Sunday. Or Boston (and maybe others), which has long done Thursday-Saturday and again on Tuesday (when they’re already rehearsing the next program). The irony of this is that while the rationale is to give them Sundays off, a lot of musicians are probably doing other gigs on their Sunday “day off.”

  • Caravaggio says:

    Folks, most working people are dog tired by the end of the week and this means by Sunday. I know I am. It’s usually a day dedicated to recovery and rest, not one for disheartening singing (-: This Sunday business may work out for retirees ND tourists lacking discernement, though.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      How odd. Friday/Saturday/Sunday are fine for most people, and are usually the three busiest days of the week for leisure activities. Anyone who is worried about getting back home after a performance would love a Sunday afternoon gig. Many people don’t want a late night finish if they are working next day (especially if they have to travel), hence don’t want anything midweek but would take something Friday evening. Afternoon performances at the weekend also allow people to come from further away. And many people would like to visit New York for the weekend.

  • Monsoon says:

    From the NYT:

    “The Met’s current Saturday matinees regularly outsell weeknight performances by 15 to 20 percent, Mr. Gelb said, adding that he expects Sunday performances to sell strongly as well. Next year, he said, the Met would schedule up to 17 Sunday matinees, and the following season up to 27. Mondays will be the new dark day at the Met on weeks with Sunday matinees.”

    Sounds like a no-brainer move to boost attendance.

    Personally, I prefer matinees — I have a matinee subscription. I have a brunch with friends nearby before the opera, and get out around 4pm or so — plenty of time for a second adventure in the city.

  • Marcus Clayton says:

    This a great move by the Met. It will no doubt boost the overall attendance. I am glad they were able to work out all the details with the various unions involved.
    Matinees are very popular, and sell far better than weeknight performances.
    This will enable people coming to NYC for a long weekend to see 4 operas rather than three if they so choose. I think the schedule for the Met will be better for everyone.
    Bravo to Peter Gelb on this one!
    I am ready for the new season to begin.

  • Edgar says:

    A Sunday MET opera matinee perfectly suits the human body clock and digestive system. It is especially well-suited for a Wagner performance. Just imagine: one would have a light brunch before “Parsifal”, with a little libation during the two intermissions, followed by a lovely supper afterward (always light, never too heavily portioned as is sadly the usual case on the East Coast), and then head back home to retire for a smooth Sunday night cap, and then a sound night sleep well before midnight. If one could attend a service at St. Thomas, with their perfectly, almost clinically sterile clean angelic choir voices, before “Parsifal”, such a Sunday would be heavenly, indeed worthy of “hoechsten Heiles hehrestes Wunder…” 😉

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Many houses play on Sunday, though I don’t know of any that plays every Sunday.