New York City Opera musicians protest contract

By the Associated Press | July 12, 2011 | 1:59 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — Musicians of the New York City Opera are staging a protest as the company announces its new season.

The union members say they're being offered a contract that would gut the chorus and orchestra and strip them of health and other benefits. And they say they're not even guaranteed a minimum number of work weeks.

City Opera spokeswoman Maggie McKeon says the company is simply executing a new strategy to reverse a decade of deficits. Opera officials were announcing the new program Monday — a season of only three or four operas.

The 68-year-old organization is revered as a pillar of American culture and has built the careers of such stars as Placido Domingo. But in recent years, it has struggled with a dwindling endowment and a multimillion-dollar deficit.