The Canadian Opera Company has announced that, after four months of negotiations, the company's offer to the membership of Canadian Actors' Equity Association and the Toronto Musicians Association has been rejected. An agreement would have allowed the COC to continue to produce, in partnership with the CBC, broadcasts of the COC's entire 2012/2013 season on CBC Radio 2 and Radio-Canada's Espace Musique. These broadcasts have been in place since the fall of 2009.
These broadcasts of COC productions are non-revenue generating initiatives that the COC has been proud to produce. They are a valuable means to raising awareness about the vitality and relevancy of opera in the 21st-century, as well as serving as the only tool available to the COC at present to reach all Canadians, enabling the company's season to be heard coast to coast. The COC's seasons were also allowed an international presence via CBC Radio 2's, Radio-Canada's and the COC's websites.
"It is very unfortunate that we were unable to come to an agreement with the unions in order to allow the CBC to broadcast our season as we have for the past three years," says COC General Director Alexander Neef. "The broadcasts were extremely important to the future of opera in this country, and the COC has tried very hard to broker this arrangement because we felt so strongly about it. I am personally very disappointed, but we simply were unable to meet the financial expectations of the performers and musicians."
Over the past three seasons, the COC has been pleased to provide the artists of the company over $600,000 in fees for the right to broadcast these performances. These fees were in addition to the artists' normal performance fees. This season the COC requested a reduction in fees to $150,000 (from $200,000 per season) for the broadcasts.
Neef continues, "I am also extremely sorry that this rejection by CAEA and TMA of the COC's offer has affected the CBC's Saturday broadcast schedule. CBC has been an extraordinarily good partner in this venture, helping us re-launch these broadcasts in 2009, but there is no question that we are dealing with an extremely challenging economic environment right now that has affected both our companies. We are disappointed on so many levels, and we can only hope that there will be an opportunity to bring these broadcasts back at some point in the future."
A total of 21 COC productions have been heard over Canadian airwaves since the 2009/2010 season, including the world premiere of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables (2009); the Canadian premieres of Maria Stuarda (2010), Love from Afar, (2012) and A Florentine Tragedy (2012); and the COC premieres of Nixon in China (2011), Orfeo ed Euridice (2011), Iphigenia in Tauris (2011) and Semele (2012). In addition to featuring the world-renowned COC Orchestra and Chorus, these productions showcased such illustrious and world-famous singers as Jane Archibald, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Russell Braun, Lawrence Brownlee, Alice Coote, Clifton Forbis, Susan Graham, Jill Grove, Alan Held, Joseph Kaiser, Richard Margison, Evgeny Nikitin, Adrianne Pieczonka, Sondra Radvanovsky, John Relyea, Michael Schade, Erin Wall and Lawrence Zazzo.