After a contentious dispute between the Metropolitan Opera and IATSE Local One, the union representing stagehands, the two parties have reached an agreement that could keep the NYC institution on track to reopen in September. Details of the deal are still under wraps, according to The New York Times.
The Met is slated to welcome back in-person audiences in September, with a September 11 presentation of Verdi’s Requiem prior to the Met premiere of Terrence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones beginning September 27. But while season plans were announced a full year prior to these target dates, labor negotiations proved to be a necessary and uncertain hurdle, in addition to the myriad precautions surrounding a post-COVID reopening.
Met stagehands were furloughed in April 2020 and have been locked out since December. Due to the long lead time required to construct the Met’s sets, work was outsourced to the West Coast and Wales during the hiatus and lockout. An agreement will have to be finalized (a process that includes a vote by union members) before in-house preparations can start up.
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, previously stated that payroll costs would need to be cut by 30 percent across its unions, a step IATSE called “extremely unreasonable” at the start of the lockout.
Meanwhile, negotiations are still underway with the company’s orchestra. Another union, the American Guild of Musical Artists (representing members of the Met’s chorus), arrived at a new contract in May. Concessions, The Times reports, included reducing the chorus size and initial 3.7 percent pay cuts.