Last summer, the union entered into an agreement with the small Opera Company of Brooklyn to ban the use of a virtual orchestra in all future productions, the New York Times reported. Local 802 had targeted the troupe after hearing of its plans to present a one-night-only production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, using no live musicians, but only a virtual orchestra. The event resulted in the resignation of two members of the outfit's board, the well-known opera singers Deborah Voigt and Marilyn Horne.
The conflict arose only a few months after the issue of machine-produced music led to a four-day labor strike on Broadway.
The NLRB decreed that Local 802 had not violated any laws when it sealed an agreement with the Brooklyn company.
The musicians' union is currently fighting another front in its war against "virtual orchestras." The Joys of Sex, a hit the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival which is preparing for an April 9 start at Off Broadway's Variety Arts Theatre, has drawn union fire over its use of a synthesizer called the Sinfonia—the same machine Opera Company of Brooklyn employed.
Producers of the new musical approached Local 802 with their plans to use a piano, bass and drums — as used in the Fringe run — with the addition of the Sinfonia machine — which is produced by the company Realtime Music Solutions.