Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra Makes Strong Statement To Support Strike Against Lyric Opera of Chicago Management

By David Salazar

The Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra has made a formal statement explaining the decision to go on strike.

In a statement issued to the press on Tuesday, the organization noted that the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s management was seeking to cut the number of musicians by five positions, cutting the pay of the musicians by eight percent, cutting the number of the company’s opera performances, and cutting the number of work weeks from 24 to 22. Finally, the statement noted that the management wanted to eliminate all of the company’s radio broadcasts.

Furthermore, the notice explains that the company’s budget increased from $60.4 million in 2012 to $84.5 million by 2017 but the orchestra reportedly saw a decrease in budget from 14.6 percent in 2012 to 11.9 percent in 2017.

“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 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,” says another segment of the statement.

Moreover, the organization notes that despite claims from the management that there is a difficulty in acquiring new donors, “Other major cultural institutions in Chicago, including the Art Institute, Joffrey Ballet, and Museum of Contemporary Art, have seen big increases in fundraising.”

“An opera company that aspires to be world-class needs an orchestra that can draw the finest musicians, and produce the sound that makes opera the thrilling experience that Chicagoans have come to expect from Lyric Opera,” concludes the statement. “We’re on strike because we will not, and cannot, accept a Lyric Opera of Chicago that is nothing but a pale shadow of its former self.  If Anthony Freud and his crew abdicate their responsibility as the stewards of this organization, then the musicians of the Orchestra will gladly take up that cause.”