What a difference a week makes
Last week, the Kentucky Opera seemed very interested in having an orchestra in the pit for its upcoming production of Carmen:
The opera’s general director, David Roth, said opera administration is talking with the local branch of the musicians union, American Federation of Musicians Local 11-637, so that it can contract its members to perform the music for performances of “Carmen” on Sept. 23 and 25.
“We must have a live orchestra and live performances at all levels, and that includes an orchestra in the pit,” Roth said.
Roth said that the opera hopes to have musicians contracted by Sept. 1 so that they can begin rehearsals by Sept. 13.
For nearly three decades, the Louisville Orchestra has played the instrumental music for the Kentucky Opera.
This week… not so much:
The Kentucky Opera rebuffed an offer by the musicians from the Louisville Orchestra to play for the opera’s upcoming performances of “Carmen” at the Brown Theater, which comes during ongoing dispute between the orchestra’s management and the musicians in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.
Musicians have been without a contract since May.
Kim Tichenor, head of the players’ negotiating committee, said she made an offer to the opera’s general director, David Roth, on Monday for the musicians to play for the opera under a group the called Keep Louisville Symphonic.
The musicians organized the non-profit group when the orchestra was in early court proceedings for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, the opera issued a statement from Roth: “Our primary desire is for an agreement to be reached between the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra musicians so the Louisville Orchestra can once again perform for Kentucky Opera. It would be presumptuous for Kentucky Opera to negotiate with any other organized group of players while the Louisville Orchestra negotiates with its musicians.”
Heather O’Mara, a spokesperson for the opera and orchestra, said late Tuesday the musicians’ proposal would be difficult to implement.
Taking sides would jeopardize “the relationship between the opera and the orchestra,” she said.
Orchestra CEO Robert Birman said in a statement, “The Louisville Orchestra board and management endorse the Kentucky Opera’s neutral stance with regard to the ongoing labor impasse with orchestra musicians and their union….”
Both arts organizations share many staff members and have consolidated many of their operations over the past five years.
O’Mara also said that the opera will have an orchestra for the performances of “Carmen” scheduled for Sept. 23, 25 and 30.
“We will figure it out. There will be live music in the pit,” she said.
Best of luck with finding musicians to cross the now-inevitable picket line. I wonder why the Opera thinks that’ll be any less “difficult to implement” than having the LO do what they’ve done for decades.
Strike up the band for another chorus of Solidarity Forever – the anthem of arts managers everywhere.