The Show Goes On for Opening Night at Dallas Opera

Classic Arts News   The Show Goes On for Opening Night at Dallas Opera
 
Dallas Opera management has confirmed that the company's orchestra will be in the pit tonight for Verdi's Nabucco, which opens the company's 50th anniversary season. The local union had threatened a strike after musicians rejected a new five-year contract proposed Monday (November 6).

Company spokesperson Suzanne Calvin added that negotiations continued yesterday between orchestra and union representatives and the Dallas Opera, and changes were made in several areas, including the distribution of annual raises.

The musicians will meet tomorrow at noon to decide whether to ratify the company's final offer. "We have every faith in our very talented musicians but, whatever happens, the show will go on," she told PlaybillArts.

Three additional performances of Nabucco are scheduled through November 18 at Fair Park Music Hall.

Ray Hair, president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Professional Musicians Association, the local unit of the American Federation of Musicians representing the orchestra players, initially told The Dallas Morning News that a last-minute strike would be possible.

Negotiations on the new contract began six months ago; a federal mediator was present at the last two sessions.

The five-year contract presented by the Dallas Opera board of directors would cover the company's fall 2009 move into the new Winspear Opera House; it stipulated raises of 2% in each of the first three years, a 7.8% raise in the fourth year and a 5% raise in the final year, reports the Morning News.

The contract would also potentially increase the number of operas and performances in the new house and spread out the productions over a longer time period. Dallas Opera now presents five operas back-to-back between November and February.

Musicians would be contracted for 16 weeks' work plus a week of paid vacation in the first three years, then 17 weeks of work and one week of paid vacation in the last two years.

The contract also required a reduction in the core orchestra — musicians contracted for every opera — from 57 to 53 members, but only by attrition. Freelance players would be added as needed.

It is this clause which the players particularly dislike. "The main objections are the reductions in the core," the News quotes Hair as saying, "and also the raises that the company offered in the first three years. That doesn't even cover cost-of-living increases."


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