Musicians of the New York City Opera orchestra conducted a musical protest today at 10:30 a.m. on the main steps of Lincoln Center between 63rd and 64th Streets on Columbus Avenue. The protest was in direct response to the decision of George Steel, the Opera’s General Manager and Artistic Director, to move the Opera from Lincoln Center, the Opera’s home since 1966.  


Members of the New York City Opera orchestra – attired in formal wear (tuxedos and gowns) normally worn during performances at Lincoln Center – distributed leaflets and perform a few operatic numbers with a brass quintet.


New York City Opera orchestra musicians agree with the Opera’s former Maestro, Julius Rudel, that the Lincoln Center location has become a scapegoat for poor leadership on the part of the Opera’s management. In the wake of the announcement that the Opera will depart Lincoln Center, members of the orchestra and chorus unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in George Steel.


Steel’s decision to relocate the Opera will have a detrimental impact on audience members who have enjoyed attending world-class performances at a venue with flawless acoustics that has magnified the beauty of opera for more than 50 years. The move from Lincoln Center also may signal a significant reduction in the number of performances presented by the Opera, a move that would severely jeopardize incomes for the orchestra’s musicians.


Over the past two years, New York City Opera orchestra musicians contributed nearly $2.5 million in concessions in wages and benefits in an effort to sustain the “People’s opera,” a term famously coined by former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.


For more information and to sign a petition supporting New York City Opera Orchestra musicians in their fight to stay at Lincoln Center, please visit


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