Musicians’ strike forces cancellation of second Lyric Opera show

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Striking musicians picket outside the Lyric Opera on Tuesday. | Adam Thorp/Sun-Times

Another performance of the Lyric Opera’s season-opening run of “La bohème,” originally scheduled for this Sunday afternoon, has been canceled as musicians continue striking against program and orchestra reductions.

“Please be advised that the Sunday matinee performance of La bohème scheduled for Oct. 14 at Lyric Opera of Chicago has been cancelled because of the continuing strike,” a Lyric spokeswoman said in an email late Friday. “Lyric staff is notifying ticket holders of this cancellation.”

The 74 employees from the Chicago Federation of Musicians performed the season premiere last weekend, but rejected Lyric’s “last, best, and final offer,” sending them to the picket line last week and shutting down the opera’s second performance on the calendar on Thursday.

The musicians object to cuts to programming that they feel come at the expense of the opera’s quality and their members’ well-being. Other key points of contention: a plan to reduce the size of the orchestra by five members, from 74 members to 69 and a cut in the length of the season from 24 to 22 weeks.

The reduced number of paid performances would amount to an 8 percent cut in pay for members, despite nominal increases in wages, union representatives said.

Lyric representatives said they wanted to bring the contract in line with the reduced number of performances on the Lyric’s schedule. Once, the opera put on as many as 90 performances in a season. This year, it is slated for 55.

The next scheduled performance of “La bohème” is still on Lyric’s schedule for Wednesday, Oct. 17.

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