New York Met Opera agrees deals with two big unions

Olga Peretyatko during a dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, for Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani, April 2014. Olga Peretyatko appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani

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New York Metropolitan Opera has agreed deals with singers' and musicians' unions, averting a lockout weeks before the new season starts.

The company has been asking staff to accept new contracts with reduced pay and conditions.

An independent mediator helped broker "tentative agreements" in the small hours of Monday morning after lengthy talks.

The company has also given smaller unions until Tuesday to find a deal.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS),has been helping to the two sides find common ground.

In a statement, FMCS deputy director Allison Beck said she was pleased that after "many hours of intense negotiations", the opera company has struck deals with Local 802, which represents orchestra musicians, and AGMA, which speaks for singers in the company's chorus.

She thanked Met general manager Peter Gelb and the leaders of the two unions that settled on Monday.

The FMCS has carried out confidential financial analysis to provide an independent appraisal of the company's cashflow and help resolve the dispute.

The Metropolitan Opera has said it must cut its labour costs.

Vittorio Grigolo portrays Rodolfo with Kristine Opolais as Mimi in the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD broadcast of Puccini’s La Boheme, April 2014 The Met's many Live in HD broadcasts have included Puccini's La Boheme

So far a work stoppage has been avoided, with progress being made at last minute talks as deadlines loomed.

"These were difficult and highly complex negotiations," said Ms Beck, "and I wish to commend the parties for their resolve in addressing multiple and complex issues.

"We are grateful for their commitment to the collective bargaining process and grateful most of all that the Metropolitan Opera, one of the world's premier cultural institutions, will continue providing outstanding operas for all to enjoy.

Local 802 president, AFM, Tino Gagliardi, said "after many hours of deliberation... we have reached a tentative agreement which is subject to the approval of Local 802′s executive board and ratification by the MET Orchestra Musicians".

The Metropolitan Opera is due to open its new season next month.

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