On strike, but the Paris Opera plays on

Musicians, singers hold open-air concert on steps of Palais Garnier

Cindi Cook   | 19.01.2020
On strike, but the Paris Opera plays on FILE PHOTO


In a show of solidarity, artists from the Paris Opera played airas by Verdi and Bizet to a crowd listeners Saturday on the forecourt of the hallowed Palais Garnier.

The performance was held by those striking against pension reforms proposed by the government of French President Emmanuel Macron.

A total 200 employees of the Opera participated, including technicians. They were joined by members of the Comedie Francaise. The Palais Garnier is the official home of the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera Ballet.

The Marseillaise was, appropriately, played at the end of the half-hour performance.

On Christmas Eve, striking ballet dancers also held their own protest performance, with excerpts of Swan Lake danced on the forecourt.

"We are so unhappy not to be able to give our shows that we express ourselves differently, in the street, to show our audience that we are not on vacation," said Fabien Wallerand, a tuba player with the Opera orchestra who took part in the performance Saturday.

The past month has seen no performances due to the strike against the government's planned pension reforms.

The strike, which started Dec. 5, has seen increasing demonstrations from all sectors of industry nationwide, from rail workers who have stalled operations on the metro and commuter trains, to hospital workers, to attorneys who last week threw their robes on courthouse steps nationwide.

The Paris Opera has had an estimated €67 million (73 million) in losses for the duration of the strike, and the Comedie Francaise an estimated loss of €620,000 ($688,000).

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