Musicians on Strike at Lyric Opera

Musicians on Strike at Lyric Opera

Photo: CFM Facebook

By Jason Epperson

After the announcement of new labor agreements with stagehands, singers, and ticket sellers yesterday, Lyric Opera’s orchestra, represented by the Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM) Local #10-208, is on strike.

“Management is seeking to cut the pay, services and number of musicians while CEO Anthony Freud’s pay has grown 18% in the last four years. The Lyric budget has exploded from $60 million to $84 million, and not a dime of that has gone to the musicians” said a statement from CFM.

The strike may require Lyric to cancel performances, according to the Opera’s press representative. The Ryan Opera Center, Lyric Unlimited and other related activities also will be affected.

Lyric called the action “unnecessary and harmful” in a statement, saying “we apologize for the inconvenience and losses this disruption creates for our patrons, donors, partners and other dedicated employees, and are doing everything possible to protect as much of our season. That said, Lyric simply cannot agree to the terms CFM demands, given our current financial circumstances. Our proposed changes are necessary to ensure Lyric’s survival as a world-class opera company providing a diverse range of cultural entertainment to communities throughout Chicago.”

Lyric says it offered CFM wage increases in exchange for a reduction in guaranteed work weeks in an effort to align programming with decreasing demand for full-scale operas. The reduction in work weeks would allow the organization more room to open up facilities to additional rental income but would have the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra performing less, and for less money annually.

CFM stipulates that Lyric was actually seeking a decrease in base pay (8%) and to cut five positions in addition to the reduction in work weeks from 24 to 22.

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.