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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 16:16 GMT
Troubled opera strikes choir deal
The English National Opera was given a £4.2m grant to survive
Choir members at the crisis-hit English National Opera (ENO) have called off their threatened strike action after making a deal with their bosses.

Around one-sixth of the choristers have agreed to take voluntary redundancy, leaving a permanent chorus of 50.

As a result ENO has lifted the threat of compulsory redundancy which prompted the first strike action last month.

I am delighted with the outcome of the negotiations
Martin Smith, ENO

The singers voted unanimously in favour of taking industrial action after ENO bosses threatened to make a third of them redundant as part of a radical cost-cutting plan.

The chorus staged its first strike last month when members pulled out of a performance of Berlioz's The Trojans at the opera's Coliseum venue in London, forcing its cancellation.

Instead they put on a free performance of Verdi's Requiem at a nearby church.

The second strike, scheduled to coincide with the British première of The Handmaid's Tale on 3 April, has now been cancelled.


"I am delighted with the outcome of the negotiations," said Martin Smith, chairman of the ENO board.

"This is a very positive step forward in ENO's strategy to secure the future of the company."

I pay respect to the way the choristers have conducted themselves throughout the past few months
Ian McGarry, Equity

Ian McGarry, of performing arts union Equity, said he welcomed the agreement.

"I am greatly relieved that the uncertainties facing the chorus have now been resolved," he said.

"The choristers themselves are fully behind this settlement.

"I pay respect to the way the choristers have conducted themselves throughout the past few months.

"Without their determination this agreement would not have been possible."

The ENO has been plunged into financial crisis several times, with grants from the Arts Council of England helping to keep it afloat.

It is hoping the government-backed body will bail it out again following a meeting between the two parties on Tuesday.

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