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Lyric Opera Orchestra Musicians Take Care of Their Own

Regular musicians vote to receive less than full pay so the savings can pay extras and stage band musicians

As COVID-19 began sweeping across the United States, the Lyric Opera of Chicago management made the heartbreaking but necessary decision to cancel Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle, scheduled to be performed three times this spring. Following the announcement, Lyric Opera management told musician representatives that the regular orchestra members would be paid for the remaining seven weeks of the season. Unfortunately, that generous offer could not be extended to the many extra musicians involved in the Ring Cycle.

In response, the musician representatives worked collaboratively with Lyric management on a solution in which the regular orchestra members would receive less than full pay, with the savings allocated to extra and stage band musicians. Yesterday, the regular members of the Orchestra unanimously voted to approve that solution, thus ensuring that all musicians will receive a weekly paycheck through the end of the previously scheduled Ring Cycle performances.

The Musicians of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra consider the 43 extra Ring Cycle musicians to be a part of their family. Allowing the extra musicians to go without a paycheck was simply unacceptable to the orchestra. For the past four years, regular and extra musicians have worked side-by-side, painstakingly preparing and performing one opera from the Ring per season in order to present the massive four-opera Ring Cycle this spring.

For the Musicians of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, the choice was clear:

they must care for their entire Ring orchestra family.

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