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Contract drama locks out performers at New York City Opera

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The contract dispute involving performers at the New York City Opera has hit a sour note.

Unionized musicians and chorus members were locked out over the weekend following a contract impasse with management over their salary and other issues. Rehearsals for the City Opera's first show of 2012, a weeklong run of "La Traviata" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, was supposed to start Monday.

Officials with the 69-year-old City Opera said Sunday that management "stretched every dollar available to them to create a proposal that would suit their economic constraints and encourage the unions to come back to work, but the unions refused."

Gail Kruvand, a union rep for the musicians' Local 802, argued the performers "made a good-faith effort" in negotiating.

She added that the rejection of the union's proposals "is the death knell for one of New York's cultural treasures."

The contentious contract negotiations follow the cash-strapped opera company ditching its home at Lincoln Center last year and trimming its budget and slashing staff to stay afloat. Musicians and singers are grumbling over the potential for dramatically lower salaries -- which they say would plummet from $40,000 a year to $4,000 -- and the loss of year-round health-care contributions.

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