Italian unions call opera house strike

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[May 03, 2010]  MILAN (AP) -- Strikes by theater workers have canceled concerts at opera houses throughout Italy, including a Sunday performance in Rome.

Unions are protesting an emergency government decree on the financing and management of the nation's 14 state-supported opera houses that they say would cut benefits and sideline bargaining mechanisms.

The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Celilia posted a note on its website warning ticket holders that it has canceled concerts Sunday, Monday and Tuesday because of a strike called by its employees.

A performance of "Don Quixote" at Rome's opera house was canceled Friday, with tickets being reimbursed at the ticket office. La Scala's May 13th premiere of Wagner's "Das Rheingold" is among those targeted.

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Giancarlo Albori, a La Scala union official, said that an emergency decree was not necessary because a law on the financing of theaters was working its way through parliament. "We don't agree with the instrument," Albori said. "There is no need for urgency."

News reports said stipends, which contribute between 10 and 20 percent to the total salary for the nations 5,500 opera house workers would be cut by 50 percent.

A spokesman at La Scala declined immediate comment Sunday on the emergency decree and its impact, which was signed by the president Friday and officially published Saturday.

[Associated Press; By COLLEEN BARRY]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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