The labor dispute at the Metropolitan Opera reached a new high Wednesday.
Peter Gelb, the company's general manager, said in a letter to unionized employees that unless they reach a deal by next week, workers should prepare for a lockout starting August 1.
Opening night is not until September 22, but a work stoppage would delay the company's preseason rehearsal schedule.
In the event of a lockout, workers who are covered by the Met Opera would lose their health insurance.
This would be the first work stoppage at the Met Opera since 1980.
Met Orchestra musicians responded by saying, "That Peter Gelb would announce the prospect of a lockout before the start of negotiations with the musicians, choristers, stagehands and other segments of the workforce is indicative of his disrespect for his audience, his artists and the city of New York."
Depending on how workers are paid, their last paycheck would come either July 31 or August 7.