Metropolitan Opera Lays Off Union Employees, Including Musicians

By David Salazar

UPDATE: The remainder of the 2019-20 season has been canceled.

The Metropolitan Opera has laid off all of its union employees.

According to NPR’s Anastasia Tsioulcas, this includes musicians and chorus members. According to VAN Magazine, the” musicians are not laid off, but furloughed starting from March 31. Health benefits will continue.”

This comes on the heels of another report from Middle-Class Artist stating that the company would not be compensating its contracted soloists; in this latter report, the Met invoked the Force Majeure clause in its contracts with regards to these cancelations (Middle-Class Artist also has a piece on how the Met Opera was helped by artists taking pay cuts on two separate occasions when the company was facing financial straits). A recent NPR article noted that Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb made an estimated $2.17 million during the company’s previous financial year. He also signed a contract extension in late 2019 to stay on until 2027.

The company has not yet confirmed the status of its 2019-20 season and whether it will be completed, though this latest situation suggests that there won’t be more opera come April. The Met has officially closed its doors through March 31, but several companies around the world are already taking precautions of shutting down into the summer. The Dallas Opera recently announced that it was done with the 2019-20 season, while the Glyndebourne Festival noted that instead of opening in May, it was pushing back the start of its 2020 festival in July.

The Met Opera recently kicked off a nightly online streaming service in which it allows audiences to check out performances from its Live in HD archives.