Opera strike forces cancellation of more shows

29th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - A strike at the Paris Opera has forced the cancellation of six shows, including two on Monday, and threatens to cause losses running up to 2.2 million euros if it continues.

29 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - A strike at the Paris Opera has forced the cancellation of six shows, including two on Monday, and threatens to cause losses running up to 2.2 million euros if it continues.

The Paris Opera announced the cancellations Monday of Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" at the Opera Bastille and ballets at the Palais Garnier Opera, "Genus" by Briton Wayne McGregor and "Medea's Dream" by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj.

In all six performances have been cancelled since Friday due to a wildcat strike over pension reform, although Sunday's world premiere of McGregor's ballet went ahead as scheduled.

The strikers have threatened to continue the action through Wednesday.

Staff at the state-owned Paris Opera and Comedie Francaise joined protests earlier this month over plans by President Nicolas Sarkozy's government to reform special pension benefits enabling early retirement for 500,000 public sector workers.

The 1,680 permanent staff of the Opera have one of the oldest pension systems in France, created in 1698 by Louis XIV for the Opera's predecessor, the Royal Academy of Music.

The most spectacular measure concerns the 154 dancers of the Opera ballet, who can retire at 40 -- and must do so by 42 -- after a mimimum 10 years in service. The 102 members of the Opera choir can retire aged 50.

The pension system is designed to reflect the physical strains of Opera work, but also allow a healthy turnover of artists.

Currently the state bails out the Paris Opera pension fund to the tune of  10 million euros each year because contributions from workers fall short of payments.

Overall, French special pensions funds cost taxpayers five billion euros a year.

AFP

Subject: French news

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