Rome’s Opera House signs deal to save musicians’ jobs

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On 18 November, Rome’s Opera House announced that it signed a deal with trade unions saving nearly 200 musicians’ jobs.

More than a month ago Rome’s renowned Opera House had sacked nearly 200 members of its permanent orchestra and chorus as a result of Italy’s economic crisis, which made the prestigious venue accumulate debts of more than €40m ($50.1m) in order to continue operations.

The decision was quickly followed by Riccardo Muti’s resignation, one of the most prominent maestros, who walked away from the Rome Opera after a six-year contract reportedly marked from a lack of “serenity”.

Legendary conductor Riccardo Muti (photo: Gressan)

Teatro dell’Opera di Roma has been experiencing mismanagement and debt for years while struggling with strikes, financial issues and a general turmoil as part of Italy’s economic downturn and high unemployment rate.

Last month, management announced that 182 employees, among them musicians and choristers, would be fired to allegedly be re-engaged as freelancers during the opera season.

As The Independent reports, the move was described by Italy’s Ministry for Cultural Affairs as a “painful but necessary step to save the Rome Opera and start again”.

(photo: Anna Netrebko)

Two months after the announcement, unions decided to reconsider the settlement and negotiate a new deal which was signed on 18 November in order to save $3.75 million a year by cutting overtime pay and bonuses. The deal also includes the promise, on behalf of the unions, not to strike over issues linked to the agreement.

The 1880 Teatro dell’Opera will now focus on the performance of its internationally notable productions scheduled for the current season where the “saved” musicians and choristers will perform again along with other members of the orchestra in the 19th-century building in the centre of Rome.