Yesterday, the Metropolitan Opera informed its contracted soloists that they will not be paid through its current closure the rest of the month, citing Force Majeure.
Five days ago, the largest opera company by budget in the United States released a statement to the press that all rehearsals and performances through the end of the month would be cancelled due to Coronavirus.
Multiple soloists currently engaged at the Met confirm they found out about their lost work via a Tweet.
On Monday, March 16th, Diane Zola, an assistant general manager at the Met, released the following statement to soloists by email entitled, ‘Force Majeure’:
“As you are aware, on Thursday, March 12, 2020 the Metropolitan Opera was forced to cancel rehearsals and performances due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 also known as Coronavirus.
There is a Force Majeure provision in the AGMA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Because the public health-related closure of the Met is a Force Majeure condition, payment obligations and other terms of the CBA and the individual artist contracts are not applicable during the period that the Force Majeure condition exists.
Given the rapid progression of COVID-19 internationally, we thank you for your understanding as we all weather unknown and challenging times. Your wellbeing and health are of the utmost importance to the Metropolitan Opera and we send you all good wishes for good health and strength.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have further questions or concerns.
With my sincere best wishes,
Middleclassartist cannot speak publicly to the Met negotiations with soloist representatives in order to protect the artists involved. Middleclassartist is aware that negotiations may have been ongoing after this email was sent.
Opera soloists on contract at the Met are furious. One Met principal who received the email stated, “I’m completely disappointed by the Met’s decisions. Many companies, big and small, are making the effort to help their singers in these difficult times. The Met is not. It shows a lot about them as a company. Shameful.”
Another Met principal set to begin rehearsals soon refused to comment, but mentioned that as of March 17th, he has not received any communication from the Met regarding payment.
Out of more than a dozen opera stars asked to comment, only one, not contracted at the Met, came to the Met’s defense: “They don’t have the money. The donors don’t have the money. If we want future seasons, this is how it's going to have to be. It’s so damn sad.”
Updates will follow as the story develops.