[Met Performance] CID:36480
Faust {231} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/3/1906.

(Chorus Strike

Metropolitan Opera House
January 3, 1906

FAUST {231}

Faust...................Enrico Caruso
Marguerite..............Emma Eames
Méphistophélès..........Pol Plançon
Valentin................Antonio Scotti
Siebel..................Josephine Jacoby
Marthe..................Mathilde Bauermeister
Wagner..................Bernard Bégué

Conductor...............Nahan Franko

Director................Eugène Dufriche
Costume Designer........Baruch & Co.
Costume Designer........Blaschke & Cie

Because of a strike, only six choristers participated in this performance, forcing many unprecedented cuts in the score.

Faust received ten performances this season.

Review and account from an unidentified publication:


Caruso and Mme. Eames Entertain Many at Metropolitan.

Mr. Conried's chorus struck last night. They chose an auspicious time, for "Faust" was given for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera House this season, with Caruso singing the title part in French, for the first time in his career, and Mme. Eames making her re-entrance for the winter. The largest crowd since the early "Parsifal" performances was on hand, and the box office window had to be closed at 8 o'clock. Mme. Eames personally implored the members of the chorus not to strike, as it would be hard for her in her first appearance this season. She talked with the men for some little time, and joined with Mr. Conried in trying to make them understand that they would get no sympathy from other theatrical unions, and finally implored them in an impassioned speech not to go back on her. The older hands were in favor of delaying the strike until Mme. Eames had sung Marguerite, but the majority rule broke this plan.

Mr. Conried sent the curtain up on schedule time, and "Faust" was sung to the end without a chorus, though two men and six women, members of the chorus, refused to join in the strike, and moved with the supers through the scenes where a crowd is required. The management refused to divulge the names of these faithful ones lest the union should take harsh measures against them, but they were veteran singers at the opera house. The soldiers' chorus and the kermesse scene, of course, had to be cut, but the organ filled up the void in the church scene, and only three men (who seemed to have come, not to hear Caruso, but the chorus!) demanded their money back. The ballet did not strike, and served a useful purpose last night.

The first definite intimation the audience had that anything was wrong came after the first scene. Mr. Conried stepped in front of the. curtain and made the following speech:

  Ladies and gentlemen: Circumstances which it was impossible for me to foresee compel me, very regretfully, to inform you
that some omissions will be made in tonight's performance. The members of the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera House,
acting under the orders of the labor union, have thought fit, without notice, to deliberately repudiate the contracts which they
had signed with me as individual singers and before they were organized as unionists. Speaking as members, not of the
chorus, but of a labor union, they have made certain demands to which as a matter of principle, of respect for art, and of
respect for this art loving public I have refused to submit. As a result of this repudiation, "Faust" will of necessity be pre-
sented tonight without a chorus. I trust, however, that in every other respect you will be satisfied with the performance. I will
not weary you, ladies and gentlemen, with details which you might, rightly and naturally hold to be of purely administrative  interest. But, being - as I have always been - anxious to show my grateful and sincere deference to the public, I feel bound to  mention that my objections to making concessions to the chorus are not founded upon the nature of the demands  themselves-some of them are just, and I have expressed my willingness to consider them, as to the raising of salaries, for  example--but upon the manner in which they have been presented. In other words, while perfectly willing, so far as possible,
to meet the wishes of the chorus as members of the chorus, I have firmly and absolutely refused to be dictated to by the chorus  as a labor union. It is my conviction that, in the interest of art and of the public which expects me to produce opera in an artistic
way, the manager of the Metropolitan Opera House must be free to choose the singers, small or great, by whom the repertory
is interpreted. In any case, I repeat, will not permit a labor union to dictate what artists shall or shall not sing at this opera louse.
I believe firmly that you, and all other intelligent operagoers, will support me in this attitude. In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen,
I trust that, despite the absence of the chorus, you will have a very enjoyable evening.

At the close the audience, in the main, broke into long applause, but a few voices were heard on the other side.

"Why don't you send for Dippel?" said a wag in the gallery.
"Hire a hall!" some one else cried.
"You knew it was coming; why didn't you get another chorus?" cried a third; and from under the boxes, where Caruso's countrymen stood, came a few catcalls and hisses. The applause, however, soon drowned these out.

The absolute decision to strike was handed to Mr. Conried at 7 o'clock last night, at the time the chorus should have arrived, but at the rehearsal of "Parsifal" in the morning there was rather definite talk of it. Mr. Conried attended this rehearsal and told the chorus that his directors backed him up in his refusal to recognize their union. He said he would consider anything in reason regarding a raise in pay for each member and intimated that he considered higher wages no more than fair, but he would not, under any consideration, recognize their union and told them that a strike was a dishonest act, as it violated their contracts with him. He further said that he could hold out hope for a five-year contract for each member if they did not strike, and he promised them sleeping cars from Philadelphia. He closed by saying that he was their friend. "You believe," said he, "that the Central Federation will back you up by ordering a sympathetic strike of stage hands and musicians. You are wrong. I have official information that you will be left to go alone. As a friend I ask you to consider well what you are doing."

Then followed a. long discussion, in which Mr. Conried took part, and at the end the chorus departed, still talking vigorously, and the rehearsal was abandoned. The chorus leaders then went to the Central Federation, it is said, for orders.

Mr. Conried now says that. he will never again receive any of them as members of a. union: If they come back it will be as individuals. A new chorus of seventy-five singers, gathered in the last week in New York, is being rushed into rehearsal, and the immediate repertory is being arranged to fit the situation.

Friday night "Tristan and Isolde" will be sung, as scheduled, with the sailors' chorus of Act I sung behind the scenes by principals. Saturday afternoon "Faust" will again be sung in place of "La Sonnambula," since Caruso and Eames are good drawing cards, and it proved last night to go along surprisingly well without a chorus. Saturday night Campanari returns to the company, and "The Barber of Seville" will be sung instead of "Lohengrin." There is a good chance, too, that "Parsifal" can be given, since the German singing societies in New-York are familiar with the music. "Don Pasquale,' of course, can easily be sung, and several of the Wagner dramas. The singers last Monday came prepared to sing "Don Pasquale," in case the chorus struck then. In 1884, when Dr. Leopold Damrosch was director of the opera, there was a similar chorus strike-though no union was formed-and Dr. Damrosch gave Auber's "Masaniello" with a double quartet. That was on Monday. On Wednesday he gave "Die Walküre," which requires no chorus, and on Thursday the chorus returned humbly to work.

The Actors' National Protective Union, of which the Chorus Singers' Union was a part, ordered the strike. A committee, headed by James Barry, business agent of the Actors' Protective Union, tried to see Mr. Conried, but he refused them an audience.
A conference was held early in the evening between the committee and the chorus singers in Adler's Hall, No. 142 West 42nd St., at which the question of the strike was discussed. The members of the committee were indignant at Mr. Conried. After a few speeches the strike was formally declared. Barry said last evening: "The chorus singers had no resource but to strike. The strike affects 140 men and women, all of whom will get work elsewhere which will be more remunerative than the work they were doing."
The Theatrical Protective Union, consisting of the stage hands, and the Musical Mutual. Protective Union, which supplies the orchestra, will be hauled over the coals by the Central Federated Union next Sunday, for refusing to order the musicians and stagehands out in sympathy with the chorus singers.

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