Performers from the New York City Opera staged protests on Tuesday as the company revealed its plans for a four opera season that will involve leaving the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in order to perform in scattered venues across New York.

100 singers and musicians gathered outside the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where they held signs asking George Steel, the artistic director and general manager, to stop from dismembering City Opera, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The union members say they're being offered a contract that would gut the chorus and orchestra and strip them of health and other benefits, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Steel tried to hold a positive note throughout the conference.   He announced the five creative works that would be included in the City Opera's 2011-12 seasons, including a production of Telemann's Orpheus that would be performed in a small venue ideal for Baroque Opera.  Other locations for the company's tour will include Brooklyn, Harlem and Central park.  

If we didn't achieve fundamental change in these contracts, Steel said, the company could not continue to exist.

Steel's comments come following a bout of financial struggles incurred by the company. Its endowment went   down from $55 million to $9 million as the end of the fiscal year of 2008 and it landed an operating deficit of $ 5 million during its 2010-2011 season.

Steel announced that the company had plans to collaborate with the Public Theater in 2012 offering free opera at the Delacorte Theater.