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Opinion
Stephen Mihm

And the Band Went on Strike

The standoff between General Manager Peter Gelb and the unions is hardly the first labor struggle to convulse the Metropolitan Opera.
The show doesn't always go on. 
The show doesn't always go on. 

Another kind of Sturm und Drang is playing out at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where stage crews, orchestra, chorus and other workers are being asked to accept cuts in wages and benefits or face a lockout by General Manager Peter Gelb in advance of the next season.

As the Met braces for what it called "one of the biggest financial challenges in its 131-year history," Gelb is aiming to cut labor costs by 17 percent. In a financial summary reported by the New York Times, the Met said it paid average combined pay and benefits for its chorus members of about $300,000, and about $285,000 for orchestra members in the 2012-2013 season. (Gelb himself earned $1.8 million in 2012, according to the New York Times, though he has since taken a pay cut).