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Musicians Stage Protest

Florida Grand Opera orchestra musicians vacated the orchestra pit as an act of solidarity at performances of La Boheme at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on May 8 and 10, in protest of the Opera's refusal to recognize them as employees of the Opera company. After their usual pre-performance warm-ups, the orchestra quietly removed their instruments and left the pit en masse, while CEO and General Director Robert Heuer made his pre-performance speech from the stage overlooking the empty pit.

Heuer announced the productions which will be presented during the 2008-2009 season, and requested the audience to renew their subscriptions for next year.  Recent decisions by the Opera to refuse to recognize the musicians as employees and to engage a different orchestra contractor for next season mean that most of the current musicians will not be a part of the 2008-2009 orchestra.  Their peaceful protest was carried out in order to attract the attention of the audience, most of whom have no idea that the opera's decision to bring in brand-new individual musicians for next season will affect the quality of the orchestra, which had been a solidly established ensemble during the past 7 years.

While the orchestra was waiting in the corridor for Heuer's speech to end, one employee of the opera was heard to say into her radio, "Yes, it seems that the orchestra is in the hallway again...."

The musicians returned to the pit after the conclusion of Heuer's speech to play both performances.

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