Paris Opera's Last Striking Union Suspends Walkout

Classic Arts News   Paris Opera's Last Striking Union Suspends Walkout
 
The lone union to continue the strikes that disrupted the Op_ra national de Paris this fall has given up its walkout, and all productions at the company will take place as planned through the first week of the New Year.

In a letter to the company's administration this week, the FSU, which represents a small number of backstage workers at the Op_ra-Bastille (the newer of the company's two houses), suspended its strike threat, effective through January 7, according to the television channel France 2.

The walkouts at the Op_ra earlier this fall were part of the protest staged all over France by labor unions protesting the Sarkozy government's proposed overhaul of their various specialized pension plans. In mid-November, after a series of cancelled performances that cost the company more than €2 million, most of the unions at the Op_ra called off their strikes. Operations at the historic Palais Garnier returned to normal, but an ongoing walkout by the unions FSU and SUD (which returned to work in early December) disrupted performances at the Bastille: several performances of the Op_ra Ballet's Nutcracker were cancelled, with one being given in rehearsal clothes, and Tosca was presented in a concert staging.

More embarrassingly, a new Robert Carsen production of Tannh‹user, conducted by Seiji Ozawa and promoted as one of the major events of the season, received its first three performances without scenery; only last weekend was the staging seen as intended. (Carsen, alas, was booed and whistled by part of the audience, though mezzo B_atrice Uria-Monzon, who played Venus, received cheers, as did Ozawa and the orchestra.)

Even though no one is currently on strike at the Op_ra de Paris, the company's general director, G_rard Mortier, told Agence France-Presse today that "nevertheless I remain worried and vigilant, because the strikes could begin again after January 7."

Since the walkouts began on October 18, the Op_ra has had to cancel 17 performances and present another 12 in reduced versions. The company's resulting losses are estimated at more than €3.1 million.

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