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Plácido Domingo’s appearance in the Parisian Chalet production of Alfano’s opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, is under threat of strike. Workers at Madrid’s opera, Teatra Real, are threatening to withdraw their labour after a letter was sent by the house demanding a refund of money that was paid after an administrative error.
The dispute couldn’t have arrived at a worse time. With Spain in deep recession – almost one in four of the work force are unemployed – the country’s opera houses have been facing the harsh reality of a huge decrease in government subsidies and are now looking to develop support from the private sector. The budget at the Teatra Real has already been reduced by 1.5 million Euros (£1.22m) though the board of directors projects a balanced budget following dramatic economies and private donation targets.
Speaking of the situation, Domingo said that he understands both sides of the argument. He said: "As a theatre director I am not in a position to sit down and argue with this or that party. What I do, on occasions, is talk directly with the unions and say to them: of course I am with you, I'd like you to have a stable job, but I can also tell you that the company, for whatever reasons, cannot go very far."
He added that, in times of austerity, the plight of the staff that “live on a day-to-day basis” should not be forgotten and that it would be almost impossible for them to pay the money back.