Musicians of the Lyric Opera orchestra return to work today, knowing that they got much less than they struck for.
By the time Riccardo Muti came out yesterday with a fiery statement of support – ‘We must never forget this! We must support the musicians. Any action against them is an act against culture!’ – the ink was already drying on a deal in which the musicians agreed to give up four jobs and two out of their 24 weeks’ work.
So why did they have to concede?
From early assessments in Chicago, these factors emerge:
1 The musicians had no substantial fighting fund. They could not hold out for long.
2 The Lyric was about to cancel half the season.
3 Other house unions had undercut them, accepting the two-week shortening and some job losses.
4 They had made serious gains – as little as 10 days ago the Lyric was sticking on a 43% percent pay cut – andit made more sense to consolidate than to continue the confrontation.
In the end, no-one wins. But lessons will have been learned across the US music biz. For the next round.