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    The Music Ends at ChevronTexaco

    Oil company to drop Met Opera broadcasts, ending storied tradition.

    SAN FRANCISCO -- ChevronTexaco Corp. will drop its sponsorship of the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday radio broadcasts after next season, another sign of the troubled times for classical music in the United States. The Met's Saturday afternoon broadcasts have been a staple on classical music stations since 1931. Texaco Corp., then known as The Texas Co., has been the sole sponsor since 1940, the longest continuous sponsorship in broadcasting.

    "The Saturday broadcasts have introduced millions of people around the world to opera," Met general manager Joseph Volpe said in a statement Tuesday. "The Metropolitan Opera has already started actively seeking new sponsors for the broadcasts, which present a wonderful and unique opportunity for a sponsor with a global outlook."

    Texaco was acquired by Chevron Corp. Glenn Tilton, Texaco's last CEO, is a managing director of the Met.

    "ChevronTexaco has had a tremendously rewarding relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, which is a world-class cultural treasure," Patricia Yarrington, ChevronTexaco's vice president for public and government affairs, said in a statement. "However, as our business has evolved, we believe it is important to focus more of our resources directly with the countries and markets where we do business, with an additional emphasis on addressing pressing development needs in those communities."

    ChevronTexaco said it will support the Metropolitan Opera's efforts to identify sponsors for the radio broadcasts. The move by the oil company is the latest in a series of setbacks to affect classical music in recent months.

    The Pittsburgh Symphony, facing an $800,000 shortfall this season, last week proposed a $10,000 salary cut and the loss of benefits for musicians. The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Jose Symphony filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week. The Louisville Orchestra, facing a deficit of about $800,000, has fallen behind in paying its musicians and the Nevada Opera said it was cutting three of every four full-time employees, citing a $250,000 debt.

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