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Thread: Opera singer barred due to alleged vilification of gays

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Default Opera singer barred due to alleged vilification of gays

    The story here:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-2...otello/5543944

    I was a bit hesitant to create this thread, but I did. I don't want to needlessly create controversy here, but I think it can provide for an interesting contrast of opinions on this news story. Of course, if you want to challenge another forum members' opinion, please do it within the rules of TC. I don't want this thread to descent to mayhem and be locked!

    So, once you've read the story, you might want to give your thoughts on it.

    Some specific questions here (for guidance only) :

    1. Do you think that the decision to prevent this singer from performing was a good one?

    2. Why or why not?

    3. Under what circumstances should a musicians' comments on sensitive issues like this affect their ability to perform?

    4. Should posts on facebook or on other social media be taken to be the same as comments made in an 'on the record' type or official interview, for example in a published article?

    5. Does vilification of minorities (be it LGBT, ethnic, religous groups) by musicians worry you so much that you would boycott their performance?
    Last edited by Sid James; Jun-24-2014 at 07:38.
    Genuine ersatz classical listener since 1981.

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    Senior Member dgee's Avatar
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    Just looks like a solid commercial decision to me - make incredibly vile comments publicly, offend patrons, potentially damage your employer's brand? You're finished

    It's been all over my social media and it was good to see OA do the right thing eventually

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    Junior Member Lt.Belle's Avatar
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    Oh i'm shocked.
    And having trouble with formulating now i'm confused. I get your point though!
    Having thought about it i say: Yes. I'ts a good decision of opera Australia.
    Because there would have been too much controversy. Among members and attenders.
    Surely you can have a opinion, but if a company decides to pull the plug, then thats their own right!
    When is something official? Where there is smoke, there's fire so something has to be done.

    On your last question i say yes cause i wouldnt enjoy the performance anymore.
    Last edited by Lt.Belle; Jun-24-2014 at 08:27.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Couple of simple points.

    Social media is a minefield. Unless the artiste has a page managed by a PR company, you are always likely to get their actual opinions rather than "what the artiste meant to say was ...". So it is more representative of their opinions. The other problem is that people can mount a campaign and seem to have more popular support than they actually do. This is particularly the case in an unmoderated environment where some people will be put off by (unregulated) trolling.

    Second thing, and we have seen this with various Wagner threads, to what extent does the artist's personal views diminish the greatness of his work? Does the use of Parsifal, for example, as a myth of "racial purity" diminish its artistic merits? The related question is to what extent should we attempt to control artists. Are things like denazification and McCarthyism simply the obverse of the Zhdanov Doctrine and equally to be deplored?

    I don't have answers, just some disquiet.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    I think it is okay to have a conscientious objection to mainstream opinion: free speech is important. But the sheer nastiness of what she said takes my breath away. In this case, some action had to be taken. Other instances might be less clear.

    Yes - I would boycott an artiste to whose opinions or actions I had a strong moral objection. It would have to be an issue that was very important to me. For example, I don't avoid people whose political point of view differs from mine.
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    Senior Member Majed Al Shamsi's Avatar
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    It disturbs me a little how celebrities have to behave themselves more than everyone else, and how the smallest mistakes they make (not that abusing minorities is a small mistake) immediately turn into gossip.

    In fairness, though, just as a performer should have the freedom to say whatever they like, other people should have the freedom to boycott their performances. No banning required.

    Personally, I'd still attend if I could, even if I were gay, because I'm going for the performance, not the performers.
    Last edited by Majed Al Shamsi; Jun-24-2014 at 12:26.

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    Senior Member Don Fatale's Avatar
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    Kind of shocked. I can understand that people can have strong views on all kinds of societal matters (I do!), but to speak in such a way shows such bad manners and lack of breeding. However, personally, I don't think I'd boycott in an equivalent situation. Whether I'd consciously book to see somebody who's behaviour I didn't like, well that's another thing.
    Last edited by Don Fatale; Jun-24-2014 at 12:48.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Just to be clear, this is not a small matter. This woman compared homosexuals, and actually the West in general, to faecal matter. Basically she was saying we are all a heap of ****. If that's what you think of the West, dear, then don't come and perform here, and don't pick up your presumably large fee (probably a lot more than you get in Georgia). Good riddance to bad rubbish. La Monnaie has also cancelled her contract. I hope her international career has now been killed stone dead.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    If Opera Australia receives any taxpayer money for its operations, which I imagine it does-- then they cannot discriminate against the very same people who are forced to pay for its operation; even by people who may endorse the admittedly vile comments of Miss Iveri.

    On the other hand, if Opera Australia were a one-percent privately-funded enterprise, then they can hire or fire for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    My guess is that Opera Australia cancelled her contract for fear of an incident during the performance. Basically they were protecting themselves, and who can blame them? Given the amount of gay people who work behind the scenes as well, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they all refused to work with her. I don't think they had a choice really.

    As for Iveri, maybe she learned an important lesson, "Don't bite the hand that feeds."
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member SiegendesLicht's Avatar
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    It's kind of sad the West is associated with gay pride parades in the minds of outsiders. But that is a popular stereotype in the former Soviet Union, of which Georgia is a part. And that stereotype is actively endorsed from Moscow... and there we get to politics the discussion of which on TC is not encouraged
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiegendesLicht View Post
    It's kind of sad the West is associated with gay pride parades in the minds of outsiders.
    Really? I would hope that maybe the West is associated with tolerance and inclusion, as opposed to repression and bigotry.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    My guess is that Opera Australia cancelled her contract for fear of an incident during the performance. Basically they were protecting themselves, and who can blame them? Given the amount of gay people who work behind the scenes as well, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they all refused to work with her. I don't think they had a choice really.

    As for Iveri, maybe she learned an important lesson, "Don't bite the hand that feeds."
    I agree with your conclusion ("Don't bite the hand that feeds.") if not your analysis. Gaucherie and gratuitous hatred around sophisticated and decent people isn't going to go unpunished; and shouldn't be. It is my devoutest wish that decent people in the operatic word have nothing to to with Miss Iveri. "You made your bed, Honey. Now sleep in it."

    But I'm looking into the deep-focus of the legal and philosophic foundations of the issue.

    When everyone is forced to pay for a 'public service,' and then that service is denied to some of the people who are paying for it-- is this fair, just, or equable? If so, by what standard? The Evangelical Religious Right or the PC Religious Left?

    In the American South in the fifties, blacks had to sit at the back of the bus in some states; yet at the same time, they were forced to pay the taxes that supported a service that denied them service. Is that fair?

    Though I would never compare the hideous likes of Miss Iveri to the entirely-justified struggles of African-Americans, the principle of the matter is identical.
    Last edited by Marschallin Blair; Jun-24-2014 at 14:56.
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I agree with you. It seems to me that this is a clash of cultures, not much more. The problem arises when these ultra-conservative Eastern European cultures, want to join and benefit from what the West can give them. They are determined not to be sullied by the West, but then they also want to become part of it, so what do they do?

    At the Eurovision Song Contest this year, Russia and one or two other Eastern European countries tried to have the Austrian entry (a bearded drag queen) banned from the competition for offending moral decency. The rest of Europe responded in the best way possible and handed her first prize. Russia was incensed, vowing never to enter again and to create their own competition. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. The response of the competition organisers is to shrug and say, "Well you wanted to join, if you don't like it don't bother. Your choice."

    I suspect that America and Europe see things differently but I rather resent the epithet of a PC (I assume you meant) non-religious left. Secularism is actually good for religion. It allows you ro practice whatever religion you wish, as long as it doesn't affect the rights of any other individual. What we demanded, which has now largely been achieved in the UK, is that everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality should be treated equally under the law. I don't see that as being PC, just reasonable, and it is interesting that it is actually a Conservative government that brought in equal marriage rights.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member SiegendesLicht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Really? I would hope that maybe the West is associated with tolerance and inclusion, as opposed to repression and bigotry.
    I would hope the West was associated with liberty, where you can be as liberal or concervative, as gay or as straight as you like, as long as you are strong enough mentally, and where you can maintain mutual decency and gentlemanly behavior without also having to tiptoe around certain groups looking for a reason to be offended. There are more than a few people in the West who have the same views.
    ... yet for us will still remain the holy German art... (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
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    Beloved over all.
    R. Kipling

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