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Newsletter Vol. I, No. 4 (August, 2014)

Dear Friends,
We are delighted to announce that all of the Metropolitan Opera's unions have reached agreements with Met management. Pending ratification of these contracts, the coming season will begin as scheduled, with a September 22 performance of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro under beloved Music Director James Levine. This outcome is a triumph for the Metropolitan Opera and its sustainable future.
Throughout these contentious negotiations, a clear question emerged: What has been driving increased costs? We have maintained that a sustainable future for the Met must be based on cost-saving measures beyond simply cutting employee compensation. Our data-driven approach was substantiated by numbers directly from the Met, and the independent financial analyst, Eugene Keilin, ultimately agreed with our assertion that the Met could best realize major savings through more efficient spending. Moreover, as part of the settlement, the Met's finances will be subject to unprecedented oversight, with powerful new mechanisms put in place for enforcement and accountability. The contract calls for an "Efficiency Task Force" between artists, management, and the board, which will have direct input on spending practices. Mr. Keilin will continue as a contractually-mandated partner working directly with this task force to trim unnecessary costs, ensuring that the Met can be run more effectively.
We hope our unique system for financial oversight will be a model for other organizations, and will give all stakeholders the means to ensure that the past practices that led us to this brink will not be repeated, here or anywhere else. Critically, the deal accomplishes all of this while preserving the artistic core of the house. The orchestra's base compensation rate remains untouched and will see an increase in the 4th year. Instead, cuts in compensation will primarily be felt through the reduction of a fixed payment. Met administration will see matching cuts, beyond which management is contractually obligated to cut another $11.25M annually. This arrangement reflects the "Equality of Sacrifice" provision of our pending contract; we are all tightening our belts because it is in everyone's best interest to see the Met prosper in the coming years. 
We are hopeful that these new structures will bring about a new era of artistic vitality and fiscal responsibility. None of this would have been possible without the countless hours volunteered by hundreds of individuals, both inside the Met and out. And of course, we remain grateful to you -- our dedicated fans, friends, and colleagues -- for your ceaseless support. Thank you, and we'll see you on September 22!
The MET Orchestra Musicians

Roundup of recent news coverage and blog posts: Dying to ask us a question?  Have an idea for an article?  Contact us directly at  

From the Blog:

Lessons from Haiti

MET Orchestra Assistant Principal Violist Milan Milisavljević spent his 2013 mid-season break teaching music in Port-au-Prince, Haiti - where he learned just as much as he taught.

Opera is Not the Norwegian Blue Parrot

Opera has NOT passed on. It has not ceased to be, nor has it expired and gone to meet its maker. It is neither stiff, nor bereft of life, nor resting in peace. It is not pushing up daisies, nor kicking buckets, nor shuffling off its mortal coil, nor running down the curtain and joining the choir invisible.

One (Singular Sensation)

Earlier this year, our blog featured a riveting account of the MET Orchestra's audition process - an exciting, high-stakes competition. But what happens after the audition is over, especially if winning means joining one of the string sections? How is playing in a section different from playing as a soloist? How do players learn to perform so well together?

A Portrait of Demian Austin, MET Principal Trombone

Principal Trombonist Demian Austin reflects on how he came to play the trombone, how opera has shaped his musicality, and what it's like to be a performer at the Met.
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