AFM Lambasts Metropolitan Opera for Hiring Non-Met Musicians for Virtual New Year’s Gala

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera)

The American Federation of Musicians has released a statement following the Metropolitan Opera’s New Year’s Eve gala and its use of non-met musicians.

In a statement AFM Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer said, “It is artistic malpractice and unacceptable that non-Met musicians are being hired to perform under the banner of the Metropolitan Opera at tonight’s New Year’s Eve Gala. This is the fourth fundraising event where Met management is unethically outsourcing its musicians while, at the same time, attempting to use the pandemic as an opportunity to gut the regular Met musicians’ contract through destructive bargaining.

Krauthamer continued, “All of these fundraising events can — and should — be done safely right here in New York with members of the Met orchestra. The deepest offense any artistic institution can make is the choice to attack its own artists. Let’s be clear: hiring non-Met musicians under the banner of the Metropolitan Opera and outsourcing the orchestra’s work is an attack on the Met as an artistic institution and an insult to the very artists who work there. The Met is still the only major American orchestra that has furloughed and not paid its musicians or given them any kind of substantial financial aid or lifeline during the pandemic.”

“This is the kind of negligent leadership that leads to the self-destruction of the Met’s artistic credibility, and — on a larger scale — to a Great Cultural Depression. Put simply, Met General Manager Peter Gelb has created a cultural bait-and-switch: the audience sees a fundraiser produced by the Metropolitan Opera and naturally thinks that members of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra are the performing musicians, yet the reality is that the Met musicians are at home, unpaid and exploited. Our concern is that the valued donors to the Met Opera — and even the Met board itself — doesn’t know the actual truth about the outsourcing of the Met orchestra during this pandemic. The generous donors who we desperately need to help save the arts should ask themselves if this is the way they want their money to be used to support this organization.”

The statement comes after the Met hired outside string musicians for its New Year’s Eve gala. The company previously did the same thing for Joyce DiDonato, Bryn Terfel, Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak’s Met Opera Stars Live concert.

The Met Orchestra released a statement in anticipation for the New Year’s Eve gala noting that members of the Met Orchestra have made several attempts to work with the Met and find some compromise but have been repeatedly rebuffed by Met management.

OperaWire has reached out to the Metropolitan Opera for a comment.