Met Opera to do Sun­day shows in 2019-20

Times Colonist - - Arts -

NEW YORK — The Metropoli­tan Opera will start reg­u­lar Sun­day af­ter­noon per­for­mances for the first time in its cen­tury-plus his­tory dur­ing the 2019-20 season.

As part of its new union agree­ments an­nounced Fri­day, the com­pany also will go dark each Fe­bru­ary be­gin­ning in 2020-21. The Met will open the sec­ond half of each season in March with a new pro­duc­tion, and the season will ex­tend by a month into mid-June.

The Met has had slump­ing ticket sales in re­cent years, hurt by an ag­ing au­di­ence and a shift away from subscriptions by at­ten­dees for most arts per­for­mances. The Met sold 75 per cent of ca­pac­ity last season and 67 per cent of avail­able box of­fice, about the same as in 2016-17.

“We know that Satur­day mat­inées per­form 15 to 20 per cent bet­ter at the box of­fice than week­nights and we project Sun­days will do the same,” Met gen­eral man­ager Peter Gelb said, an­tic­i­pat­ing rev­enue will in­crease by mil­lions of dol­lars.

As part of three-year con­tracts, the Met has the right to present up to 17 Sun­day mat­inées in 2019-20 and 27 the fol­low­ing season. Any Sun­day per­for­mance will be fol­lowed by a Mon­day off for both per­for­mances and or­ches­tra re­hearsals. There also are lim­its on Tues­day morn­ing re­hearsals af­ter Sun­day shows.

Or­ches­tra play­ers who work more than 13 Sun­days in a season would get over­time, and cho­ris­ters who work over a set num­ber of Sun­day per­for­mances would re­ceive com­pen­satory time off. Sun­day per­for­mances will start no ear­lier than 1 p.m.

The shift to per­for­mances later in the spring are pro­jected to in­crease rev­enue. Fe­bru­ary usu­ally has a lower per­cent­age of tick­ets sold be­cause of win­ter weather and a drop in tourism.

Be­cause of the shift, the Amer­i­can Bal­let The­ater spring/sum­mer season at the Met will be cut to five weeks from eight.

Gelb said the Met might present out­side per­for­mances dur­ing the first week of the Fe­bru­ary break and the Met Or­ches­tra likely will give a con­cert at Carnegie Hall.

The agree­ments with Lo­cal 802 of the As­so­ci­ated Mu­si­cians of Greater New York and the Amer­i­can Guild of Mu­si­cal Artists still must be rat­i­fied by the AGMA board of gov­er­nors this month. The deals call for three per cent raises in both 2018-19 and 2019-20, one per cent in the first six months of 2020-21 and one per cent in the sec­ond half of 2020-21. A for­mal two-year ten­ure process for the or­ches­tra was put in writ­ing and an artis­tic ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished.

“Demon­strat­ing a con­tin­ued will­ing­ness to in­vest in the Met’s long-term sta­bil­ity, we have agreed to add Sun­day per­for­mances, which we rec­og­nize will reach new au­di­ences, while also se­cur­ing im­por­tant pro­tec­tions and im­prove­ments that will safe­guard artists’ work-life bal­ance,” the unions said in a joint state­ment.

The pre­vi­ous agree­ments in 2014 were reached af­ter con­tentious ne­go­ti­a­tions in which the Met asked for give­backs.

“Last time was about tack­ling costs and this time we’re deal­ing with in­creas­ing rev­enues,” Gelb said. “It seemed like the time was right.”

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