And another: Opera Australia drops its musicians

And another: Opera Australia drops its musicians


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2020

There are protests outside the Sydney Opera House.

World gone mad.

See also: The Met lays off orchestra and chorus


  • JC says:

    The musicians are on 2 weeks paid leave, while a way to continue to pay company members is found.

  • Tim says:

    I’ve noticed on twitter that all the hysterical opera singers, enraged they may not get paid, NEVER mention the orchestra who get tuppence to accompany them at the best of times.

    They list wardrobe, stage crew etc but never the people with exactly the same degrees who work just as hard and are always worse off.

    • Orchestral musician says:

      To be fair, I think this is because most of the orchestras / choruses they work with, certainly in Europe, are on salary, not freelance, and therefore will not be losing out (Germany for example could not get away with treating orchestral musicians as these institutions in the US and Australia have). And I think it was up until yesterday perfectly reasonable to assume that even the Met / OA orchestras were secure in their jobs. Strange times indeed.

      • Tim says:

        Not in the UK. Look at the plight of LPO musicians currently – Glyndebourne’s in-house orchestra.

        You think the Philharmonia members will he paid if their 3 month stint at Garsington Opera is cancelled?

        All major opera houses, with world class orchestras and not a single singer has voiced concern.

        Spare a thought for the freelance musicians about to lose a load of work at all the other summer festivals as well.

        So I guess you can only be talking about ROH, ENO, Opera North and WNO – and how long do you think their reserves will last?

        Not more than a couple of months…

        • Orchestra Musician says:

          Tim, your point is well taken. It was lazy writing on my part – I should have written ‘mainland Europe’. Apologies, and of course you are right, it seems (as with most things) the UK tries to fit between the two systems and ends up being neither fish or meat… nonetheless (and to look for a positive), I do believe orchestras to be in a much stronger collective bargaining position.

    • Stenz says:

      Simply because, normally, Orchestra members are better protected by collective agreements. Opera Houses normally have a stable orchestra and chorus, with completely different contracts which are not dependant on the cancellation of some performances for whatever reason. There is no “force majeure” leaving orchestra members without any payment. As I said: normally. This is the typical situation. Your complain shows that you do not understand the contractual situation. And, by the way, opera singers are also against the closure or whatever cuts in funds for Orchestras.

      • Tim says:

        Most opera orchestras in the UK are freelance.

        Your response shows that you don’t understand this.

        And I think you might be a teeny weeny bit surprised by how many of the major UK orchestras don’t pay their players fixed salaries – see the LPO and Philharmonia, for example. Both active in major opera houses as well.

        • Christopher Clift says:


          Not sure you are entirely correct regarding ‘ most opera orchestras in the UK are freelance’.
          I calculate there are only four opera orchestras in the UK – correct me if I am incorrect. They will be Welsh National Opera, Opera North, the Royal Opera, and Scottish Opera. Of them I am sure the only one which POSSIBLY is not full time and salaried is the Scottish Opera orchestra, though I am happy to be corrected there. You quote the LPO and the Philharmonia, both of whom are London-based, and spend most of their time playing symphonic orchestral music, but from time to time perform for Glyndebourne and Garsington Opera. Admittedly they are I believe mostly paid per session for their orchestral work.

          As for ‘many of the major UK orchestras’ not paying their players a fixed salary, could you give examples. I’m sure that, outside of London, The CBSO, Halle, RLPO, RSNO, BBC house orchestras, all pay MU negotiated salary rates, though of course these do vary according to the musician’s position within their respective orchestra.

          Admittedly I haven’t worked in the profession for some years, so I may be slightly ‘out of date’ with some, though Up to only about four years ago, I was married to a CBSO player and I would have known if she had not received a salary.

        • MWnyc says:

          Yes, but I daresay there are many opera singers who aren’t from Britain who don’t realize that orchestral players there are almost all freelancers. They wouldn’t have had occasion to find that out.

  • RW2013 says:

    The film is not outside the SOH.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Unless every country in the world takes exactly the same measures it will be very difficult to go back to normal any time soon. As soon as borders are re-opened we may see a surge again. I think after this crisis is over the governments should focus and invest as much as possible in the health care sector so that we are ready for a massive influx of patients. This current method of shutting down everything, with no end in sight, is utter madness.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I think so myself because it’s mainly designed to protect the over-70 cohort, since younger people are largely surviving through this – unless they’re smokers.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Actually, smoking is only one contributory factor (and not a big one) for the survival of people under 70.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    This is absolutely dreadful and my heart goes out to these musicians and everybody else who’s livelihood is badly affected by this pandemic. I hope they’ll be keeping their practice up at home in the meantime – even if it’s in quarantine!! Awful.

    Thoughts for everybody.

  • JH says:

    It’s unfair to bitch about singers in this way. Most of us don’t earn huge fees and have had all our contracts cancelled with no recompense and now are staring into a black hole of months ahead with zero income to pay bills, rent etc. We are not in the UK covered by any sick pay or insurance – for us it’s as great a disaster or greater than faced by many musicians.