Breaking: Chicago’s Lyric Opera is shut by orchestra strikemain
The musicians have just walked out after the breakdown of prolonged negotiations.
UPDATE: First picket-line picture.
UPDATE2: Lyric calls the string unnecessary.
Here’s what the musicians say:
Why are the Musicians of the Lyric Opera Orchestra on strike? Because a world-class opera company needs a world-class orchestra. That is now in danger.
Over the past 65 years, Chicago’s citizens, civic leaders, and philanthropists built a world-class opera company for a world-class city. The Lyric Opera Orchestra has been a key part of that, renowned for its artistry and exquisite sound. But Anthony Freud and Lyric Management are demanding radical cuts that would decimate the Orchestra and forever diminish the Lyric Opera of Chicago:
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.
If Management gets its way, the work of all those who built Lyric Opera will have been for nothing.
There is no need for any of this.
There is no justifiable reason for Lyric’s demands. If Lyric faces financial challenges it is not because of the Orchestra. Lyric exploded its budget in recent years, from $60.4 million in 2012 to $84.5 million in 2017 (the most recent year for which audited financials are available). But the Orchestra saw none of that $24 million increase. To the contrary, the Orchestra’s share of the budget has decreased steadily, from 14.6% in 2012 to 11.9% in 2017. If Lyric wants to make cuts, it is looking in the wrong place.
Which also begs the question: where is that $24 million going? Management has never given us a straight answer. Certainly, that money did not go to the musicians of the Orchestra. Since 2011, our weekly salary has increased an average of less than 1% per year; and adjusted for inflation, our wages have actually decreased by 5.1% since 2011.