By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As a result of unpaid wages, the artistic body of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro suspended the rehearsals for their upcoming premieres. According to the Union of Workers in Public Institutions of Cultural Action of Rio de Janeiro State (SINTAC), there is no set date for the premiere of the opera Orfeu e Eurídice, de Gluck (Orpheus and Eurydice, by Gluck), which was scheduled for Sunday, July 3rd.
The union president and a member of the theater choir, Pedro Olivero, said that, despite the name, the institution is connected to the state government, which is involved in a serious financial crisis and has been delaying the payment of various categories. The orchestra, chorus and ballet, as well as technical and administrative staff, held a meeting yesterday morning (June 28th) and decided to maintain the stoppage, which began last Friday (June 24th).
According to Olivero, this is not a strike, but lack of conditions (pay) allowing them to go to work. “It’s happening with theater artists and staff the same as with other state officials. [We have] not received the salary from May. We received less than half of what had to be paid. It was to be paid on June 1st, now 10th, we waited until the 14th and that was not paid in full. We’re already into the month of July and has no estimate of when the payment will come out. ”
There are about 350 people in the artistic body of the Municipal Theater and another 150 administrative staff, who have taken turns to keep working at the building because it is rented for other events and shows. Yet Olivero warns even these activities may be suspended for lack of funds for maintenance.
In a statement, the Teatro Municipal Foundation of Rio de Janeiro reported that “has been working with the prospect of difficulties and problems arising from the economic crisis in the state of Rio de Janeiro” and is seeking “solutions that preserve the scheduled events for the artistic season 2016.”
Construction of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro began in 1905 under the mayor of the then national capital, Pereira Passos. Overlooking Floriano Square, more commonly known as Cinelândia, the Municipal Theater is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, and was re-opened in May 2010 after two years of extensive refurbishments.