Dallas Opera Cancels Spring Productions Due to COVID, Musician Salaries Continue
On Wednesday, The Dallas Opera announced that its planned opera productions to begin March and extend through April 2021 would be cancelled due to the peak levels of COVID infection we are now experiencing. The safety of the company’s artists, musicians, patrons and staff was a prime consideration in the decision.
In November 2020 the musicians of the Dallas Opera Orchestra ratified an extension of its previous collective bargaining agreement which expired on June 30, 2020. The extension included a guarantee of salary for core musicians for 12 weeks during the 2020-21 season, with a planned schedule of orchestra services taking place from mid February through April. At the time, The Dallas Opera was one of a handful of opera companies nationwide still committed to live opera performances for the spring, and discussions were underway to develop a comprehensive Safety Plan to address performing during the Pandemic.
Now in place of opera productions during March and April, the company is working on a concert schedule to include an already planned gala concert performance with the orchestra and Soprano Joyce DiDonato. Other concert performances with the Dallas Opera Orchestra may also be scheduled. Performances originally planned for this spring, such as the company’s national vocal competition, the Hart Institute for Women Conductors Concert and student opera performances have been postponed for later in the year, with dates yet to be announced.
The orchestra’s contract extension for the year included contingencies for cancellation, postponement and rescheduling. Despite any changes in the performance schedule, the musicians’ salary guarantee for the season and payroll schedule remains in effect. “The musicians were looking forward to working together to safely produce opera performances during this difficult era,” said Local 72-147 President Stewart Williams. “While these cancellations are truly disappointing, we had prepared for this possibility. The hard work of the musicians in negotiating during these tough times has paid off.”
The Dallas Opera also announced its plans for the 2021-22 season with four full opera productions to begin performances in February 2022. It is expected that other concert events would take place in the fall of 2021.
The current extension expires on June 30, and negotiations for a successor agreement are anticipated to commence later in the spring.