After nearly a year of silence regarding the Metropolitan Opera’s musicians being furloughed without pay, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has officially weighed in.
In a letter obtained by the New York Times, Nézet-Séguin stated the Met should work towards a deal with musicians or the risk of losing them.
According to the Met Orchestra committee, 10 out of 97 musicians have formally left the orchestra since the Met stopped paying them.
“Of course, I understand this is a complex situation,” Nézet-Séguin wrote in the letter, “but as the public face of the Met on a musical level, I am finding it increasingly hard to justify what has happened.”
“Protecting the long-term future of the Met is inextricably linked with retaining these musicians, and with respecting their livelihoods, their income and their well-being,” Nézet-Séguin added.
“The orchestra and chorus are our crown jewels, and they must be protected. Their talent is the Met. The artists of the Met are the institution.”
The letter was sent to Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, members of the negotiating committees representing the chorus and orchestra, and Met Opera’s board of directors.
The Met replied to the letter stating, “We share Yannick’s frustration over the lengthy closure and the impact it has had on our employees.”
This past week, the Met orchestra musicians accepted $1,543 a week on a temporary basis. It made a similar deal with the Met chorus just over a month ago. This marked the first time they have been paid since April 2020.
Met Opera musicians were among the last professional organizations to reach a deal to compensate musicians financially amid the pandemic. Despite being furloughed without pay, Met artists were kept on contract, which was viewed as a mandatory unpaid leave rather than layoffs by the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the chorus and singers.
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