NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's Metropolitan Opera reached a deal early Wednesday with its stagehands and said it expects to avert a lockout by reaching agreements with the remaining unions.
The opera company said rehearsals will continue and the season will open as scheduled Sept. 22 with a new production of Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro."
Met general manager Peter Gelb demanded pay cuts of about 17 percent, citing skyrocketing production costs and shrinking audiences. Union members countered that such a radical move was unwarranted on a $2.8 million deficit against a $326 million budget — while they say Gelb wasted many millions on failed productions.
Details of the agreement with the stagehands were not disclosed, but Matthew Loeb, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, said the deal includes mandatory cost reductions from management and an independent monitor to track budget performance.
"We've always been willing to contribute to a solution that will keep the world's best operas in front of the world's greatest opera fans," Loeb said.
Fifteen unions representing about 2,500 chorus singers, orchestra musicians, stagehands, carpenters and others had been negotiating on and off since February. Their contracts expired July 31.
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