The players, who took a pay cut in 2003 when the company was struggling with a deficit, were rewarded with a series of raises. The base salary, which was $63,021 this season, increases to $80,819 over the life of the contract.
The contract also calls for an increase in guaranteed weeks of work and improvements in working conditions, including new chairs for the musicians and better protection at outdoor concerts. Musicians agreed to a more flexible schedule for education performances and an expansion of the "electronic media guarantee" that currently governs payment for radio appearances to include television and the Internet. They also agreed to phase out health benefits for retired musicians.
The contract runs from August through July 2011. Agreement was reached more than two months before the expiration of the previous contract.
"We're delighted that we were able to meet our goal of recovery [of wages given up in the previous contract]," said trumpeter Bill Holmes, the chief negotiator for the musicians. "The negotiating committee and the new administration quickly developed an atmosphere of trust and cooperation."
General director David Gockley said, "During the recent years of tremendous financial stress, the opera and its musicians were able to work together on compromises that ensured the financial viability of this company. I want to commend [director of artistic and music administration] Shane Gasbarra and Bill Holmes, who conducted these harmonious negotiations and successfully found a way forward into this new era for San Francisco Opera."