Lyric Opera of Chicago musicians strike over proposed contract, causing performance cancellations

Posted on: October 10, 2018

“A conflict over their contract, which expired June 30, led the Lyric Opera Orchestra to go on strike Tuesday,” write Howard Reich and Hal Dardick in Tuesday’s (10/9) Chicago Tribune. “Thursday’s … ‘La Boheme’ and Saturday’s opening night for Mozart’s ‘Idomeneo’ have been cancelled…. At issue is a previous labor agreement that management says no longer reflects current economic reality, and a proposed contract that musicians say diminishes their income.” The contract proposes reducing the number of working weeks from 24 to 22 and eliminating five positions, reducing “the number of core players ‘through attrition and with voluntary retirement benefits,’ ” said Lyric General Director, President, and CEO Anthony Freud. “The orchestra members, represented by the Chicago Federation of Musicians, assert that ‘Anthony Freud and Lyric management are demanding radical cuts that would decimate the orchestra and forever diminish Lyric Opera.’ … ‘Ten years ago, subscriber revenue was $20 million,’ said Lyric Opera board chairman David Ormesher. ‘This year it’s $13 million.’… Annual revenue at the Lyric Opera has declined … to about $62.5 million in the fiscal year ending mid-2017 from about $90.5 million in 2014… At the same time, expenses grew to $88.1 million from $75.8 million…. No new negotiation sessions have been scheduled.”

Posted October 10, 2018

In photo: Lyric Opera musicians picket outside the Civic Opera House in Chicago on October 9, 2018. Photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune