The Metropolitan Opera and his orchestra signed a new collective agreement on August 24 and plans to return to the stage in September with two free preseason performances.
The orchestra musicians’ union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, was the last of the Met’s three largest unions to reach a deal with the Met. These three unions represent the orchestra, the choir and the stagehands.
The new contract with orchestral musicians replaced an agreement that expired on July 31.
“We are excited to return to regular performances very soon and look forward to reconnecting with our audiences at the Met, Carnegie Hall, on tour and at our new chamber music series at Weill Hall,” said the President of the AFM Local 802. Adam krauthamer and the Met Orchestra Committee wrote in a joint statement.
To commemorate the agreement, the Met announced two free performances open to the public: Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” at Damrosch Park at 8 pm on September 4 and 5.
The concerts will feature the musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met Orchestra and Choir, and the soloists Ying Croc and Denyce Graves. Approximately 2,500 seats will be available and the performances are made possible by donations from the members of the Met’s board of directors, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Ann Ziff.
Nézet-Séguin described the concert program as “not just a moment of renewal for us, but a gift of hope and rebirth in New York” after a year and a half of struggle.
The new collective agreement creates a more achievable path to the Met’s 2021-22 season, which is set to open on September 27 with the premiere of Terrence Blanchardfrom the opera “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” – the company’s first work by a black composer.
While the orchestra has not disclosed financial details of the deal, it includes the premiere of an annual chamber music series at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, according to a Met statement.
The deal follows months of protests and tense negotiations between the Met and many of the 15 unions that represent its employees. In May, the Met struck a four-year deal with the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the choirs and solo artists of the organization.
Notably, last month, the Met has reached an agreement in principle with Local One of the International Alliance of Theater Employees, the union that represents its machinists – but not before a lockout that began on Dec. 8 and the outsourcing of the workforce earlier this year. In response to the new deal with Local 802, representatives of Local One wrote in a statement that not all contracts with Met employees are finalized and there is still work to be done.
The Met, which has been closed since March 2020 and has canceled nearly 300 performances, reported it lost more than $ 150 million in revenue during the pandemic, and previously said it was necessary for most employees suffer wage cuts.
“Members of the Met’s Big Orchestra have gone through Herculean challenges in the sixteen months of closure as we strive to keep the business intact,” Peter Gelb, chief executive of the Met, wrote in a statement. “Now we can’t wait to rebuild and get back to action.”