N.Y. opera musicians' strike cancels shows

Efforts are under way to settle an orchestra strike that has forced the New York City Opera to cancel opening performances of its new season in New York's Lincoln Center.

There are substantial contract differences between a union fighting to regain lost money and a company struggling to survive financially. Both sides concede the strike could be a long one - but mediators hope both ''can make some movement'' to avoid that.

If the strike is settled before July 21, the season can proceed as scheduled. If it goes on beyond that, some singers may terminate contracts.

The orchestra members' union, the American Federation of Musicians, wants weekly raises of $50, $75, and $100 in the three years of the new contract, to make up for increases given up in a wage moratorium last year. The company has offered $35 a week more in each year of the new contract. Work time is also an issue; the new season is shorter than in past years.

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