Gone fishin’? Not at all! Busy with ‘old media’ articles on how Internet use might affect singers (inspired by Nicholas Carr’s thoughtful book, “The Shallows) and ideas on ways that opera companies can contribute to the creative aging movement with programs that benefit seniors, the community, and even art itself.
In the latest news from New York City Opera’s ongoing saga of operatic proportions, this line caught my eye:
Under the proposal, orchestra members would receive $345.05 per performance and $61.80 per rehearsal hour, higher than the typical freelance pay in New York. For choristers, the rates would be $230.20 and $32.28.
This switch from a salary to pay-per-gig model is just one of the many things to be upset about, as chronicled by the Times, but these rates likely reflect an existing payscale. That is, lower rates for singers.
True, orchestral musicians have to sit in the pit all night and likely play more notes than the choristers sing, but singers get to memorize, act, dance, and cover themselves with greasepaint night after night. It’s not only that the payscale is unfair at the top, the attitude travels down to gigs on all levels, beginning with students. Even lousy pianists always expect to get paid, while singers are happy when they don’t have to pay for the privilege to work.
Now is not the time for Local 802 to try to turn the cultural tide on this issue, but maybe after the NYCO saga is resolved – one way or another – a little leadership on this might go a long way. Pay performers equally according to their contributions. The show couldn’t go on without all of them.