Strikes at Paris Opera End - For Now

Classic Arts News   Strikes at Paris Opera End - For Now
 
Performances at the Op_ra National de Paris returned to their normal schedule this evening following five days of strikes. The walkouts forced repeated cancellations of two operas currently in repertory and the postponement of a world premiere presented by the house's renowned ballet company.

Yet Paris Opera management, as well as the city and national governments, received a warning from the unions involved that labor actions against the company may start again in less than two weeks.

The walkout by the Opera's technical staff began on October 26 at the request of several national unions. The workers were joining the nationwide strikes over President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to reform the various national union pension schemes. Related work stoppages paralyzed Air France and the French national rail system last week.

The labor action, which continued through last night, forced the company to call off several performances of Tosca at the Op_ra-Bastille and La traviata at the Palais Garnier, as well as the first presentations of Genus, a new work by British choreographer Wayne McGregor, and a revival of Songe de M_d_e by renowned French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. Last Sunday, October 28, was a "day off," and the Opera Ballet was able to give the McGregor premiere that evening.

Tonight's performance of the McGregor and Preljocaj works took place as scheduled, as will tomorrow's Tosca and Traviata.

However, unions warned that they might resume their strike on November 13, reports Le Monde. This second walkout would threaten not only the continued run of Tosca, but also a major revival of the Robert Carsen staging of Handel's Alcina, the Ballet's holiday presentation of The Nutcracker with Rudolf Nureyev's choreography, and a new production of Mozart's Così fan tutte in an arrangement for piano and string quartet, performed by members of the company's young artists program.

Many reports on the labor unrest at the Opéra have observed that the company's pension scheme is one of the oldest in existence, dating back to 1698 and the regime of Louis XIV. (The plan allows dancers to retire on full pension at age 40 or 42, depending on length of service, choristers to retire at age 50, technicians at age 55 and orchestra players and other staff at 60.) Yet the artists have not (as yet) joined the technical workers on strike.

According to Le Monde, the Op_ra National de Paris has lost about €2.2 million because of the walkouts.

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