Music and politics collide in France

'I've lit shows at the Bastille opera house (above) for 17 years. Paris Opera's special pension deal dates back to Louis XIV in 1698. It was put in place for the king's dancers - it's a historical monument. So why change it? We're only around 1,500 backstage employees. Our salaries are low, between €1,500 and €2,000 a month for stagehands and lighting technicians. Sarkozy's catchphrase is "work more to earn more". But he's asking us to work for an extra two and a half years and lose up to 25% of our pensions. Already Paris Opera has had to cancel 10 shows due to strikes, including Wednesday night's opening of the Nutcracker. That's never a pleasure. But the mood is tense and it will worsen if the government doesn't agree to full negotiations' - Gilles Cortesi, 49, striking lighting operator, Paris Opera in today's Guardian.

And here is presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy speaking in April 2007 - 'The music we call 'classical' is the most popular since it has transcended time, fashion, and society to become contemporary. The music of Mozart and Beethoven was perhaps revolutionary, even elitist at the time, but how we can claim it's not popular?'

Read about another time when music and market forces collided. Could this mean the disappearance of classical music in Paris?
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