A Message to Our Patrons
Dear opera lovers and patrons,
We know you are sad to hear of the cancellation of the remainder of Lyric’s 2020-21 season. Because the pandemic has put all performing arts organizations in an incredibly difficult situation, the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra has been working tirelessly to find a mutually agreeable solution for the orchestra musicians and our world-class opera company.
In August, Lyric management informed the Orchestra that it was invoking force majeure and would not be making any wage payments to the musicians if performances could not resume this season. Recently, Lyric advised the musicians that it also will be terminating their health care benefits on January 1.
The musicians, represented by our union, the Chicago Federation of Musicians, believe that Lyric does not have a legal basis to unilaterally cease salary and benefits, and that cutting off healthcare in the middle of a pandemic is a callous and unnecessary step. The union is now proceeding through the grievance and arbitration process set forth in our labor agreement.
In discussions, Lyric has made clear that wage payments to the musicians or maintenance of benefits this season will be contingent upon the musicians agreeing to a new, long-term labor agreement with severe, permanent cuts to wages, benefits, the number of opera productions, and the size of the orchestra. While the musicians recognize the challenges Lyric faces during the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that now is not the time to permanently shrink and diminish Lyric Opera of Chicago.
We remain committed to finding a resolution that will help both Lyric and the musicians navigate these difficult times, yet preserve Lyric as Chicago’s premier cultural institution for future generations.