The labor actions at the opera house are part of the waves of walkouts that have crippled the transportation, hospital, education and other sectors of the French economy over the past two months. National unions are protesting President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to reform the entire complicated (and expensive) regime of pension schemes that various national trade unions have negotiated for their professions over the years.
The largest of the striking organizations at the Op_ra, the trade union confederation CGT, had planned a series of one-day walkouts, renewable indefinitely, beginning Nov. 14. Following the cancellation of that evening's performance of The Nutcracker by the Paris Opera Ballet, CGT has suspended its labor action until Nov. 22, as have the unions CFDT, FO and FSU. At this writing (about 8 p.m. Paris time), only the union SUD, which represents many of the company's stagehands and scenery and lighting workers, remains on strike.
As a result, Sunday afternoon's performance (Nov. 18) of Nutcracker, which would not be feasible without scenery or stage lighting, has been cancelled. The Nov. 19 performance would seem unlikely as well, though it has not yet been officially called off.
On the other hand, this evening's performance of Tosca will proceed in a "concert version," with costumes and stage movement but without scenery or special lighting. The company's director of human resources told Agence France-Presse today that the last two performances of Tosca's run, tomorrow and Tuesday (Nov. 20), will probably be given in concert form as well.
Both Tosca and Nutcracker are being presented at the Paris Opera's newer theater, the Op_ra-Bastille. The next performance at the historic Palais Garnier — a recital of Mussorgsky and Messiaen by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard with singers Yvonne Naef, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Mikhail Petrenko on Tuesday, Nov. 20 — will probably not be affected. The status of the next opera production at the Garnier, a revival of Handel's Alcina beginning Nov. 22, remains uncertain.
The union FO released a statement today, quoted by AFP, saying that its members were taking care that the upcoming new production of Wagner's Tannh‹user — directed by Robert Carsen, conducted by Seiji Ozawa and opening Dec. 6 at the Bastille — would not be endangered by the cancellation of rehearsals.
The Op_ra is, of course, reimbursing all ticketholders for Sunday's Nutcracker. Refunds are also on offer to any Tosca ticketholders who request them; as compensation to those who do attend, the company is offering a free DVD of either Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades or Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges during the month of December to anyone who presents his/her ticket stub from the performance at the Op_ra-Bastille gift shop.