Silenced by pandemic, Met Opera to make brief return

FILE - This March 12, 2020, file photo shows Josie Robertson Plaza in front of The Metropolitan Opera house, background center, at Lincoln Center in New York. On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, the Metropolitan Opera reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract with the American Guild of Musical Artists, one of three major labor deals needed for the New York company to resume performances in September. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) (Kathy Willens, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Silenced for 14 months by the pandemic and dealing with labor strife, the Metropolitan Opera will make a brief return Sunday.

Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct members of the Met orchestra and chorus in a program with soprano Angel Blue, tenor Stephen Costello baritone Justin Austin and bass-baritone Eric Owen.

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The 45-minute program of works by Terence Blanchard, Mozart and Verdi will be performed twice Sunday night before audiences of 150, which will include first responders and Met audience members selected by lottery. The concert will be at the Knockdown Center in Queens rather than the Metropolitan Opera House.

The Met has not performed since March 11, 2020, because of the pandemic, canceling 276 performances plus an international tour scheduled for next month.

The Met hopes to resume with a Verdi Requiem on Sept. 11 to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Next season is scheduled to start on Sept. 27 with the Met premiere of Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”

However, the Met has locked out stagehands represented by Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, who planned a rally for Thursday outside Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company's contract with Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the orchestra, expires July 31.

The Met reached a tentative agreement Tuesday on a four-year contract with the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the chorus.

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