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Musicians still unpaid from Philly summer opera
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Local opera company struggling - and struggling - to pay its artists


Posted: February 07, 2016

The jungle drums began in September, weeks after the August 2015 season of the former Center City Opera, now rechristened Vulcan Lyric. They portended so much trouble that some opera administrators might think twice about repeating the experience.

The 28 performances over 18 days at the Prince Theater were a mixed success. One of the best of the four productions, Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied, about a Vietnam War veteran, had played to as few as 20 listeners. Special discounted tickets sold well, but the discounts cut into revenue. Vulcan Lyric founder/director Andrew Kurtz concedes that, in retrospect, with productions opening on top of each other, quality suffered.

The result: Many of the artists who made it happen weren't paid at the end of the festival. More than four months later, about 27 remain unpaid. Freelance Philadelphia musicians say this is fairly unusual. Because they worked on more than one production, many of them are out at least $2,000.


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