There’s homophobia even in opera. :(

There’s homophobia even in opera. :( June 20, 2014

As somebody who has done theater, musical theater, and opera at all levels from amateur to professional, I can personally assure you that the stereotype of gay people being in theater is…true.  It’s so true.  Theater is a welcoming place for gay people as a general rule.  It’s easier for them to come out there and to truly be themselves.  I love it.

But apparently pockets of anti-LGBT sentiment still exist, even in opera where people are likely to be surrounded by gay people who are just as good as their straight neighbors.  Enter Georgian Soprano Tamar Iveri who wrote an open letter to the Georgian President criticizing him for speaking out against violence committed by Christians against LGBT people at a celebration:

In the lengthy diatribe, originally posted on her Facebook page, she describes LGBT people as “deviants” and suggests that homosexuality is part of the “faecal mass” being foisted on Georgia by the West.

Iveri’s outburst came on the back of a rally organised by LGBT activists and other Georgian citzens to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) in the city of Tbilisi. According to reports, tens of thousands of Orthodox Christian activists attacked the participants some of whom, it is claimed, narrowly escaped death. Iveri, however, lambasted the Georgian President for condemning the violence writing that she was “proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade”.

The letter, which contains frequent references to bodily waste, sexual practices and Western moral corruption makes for difficult reading. Backing those who attacked the parade, Iveri says that “often, in certain cases, it is necessary to break jaws in order to be appreciated as a nation” and maintaining that the perpetrators of the violence were “Georgian youth of pure blood, still unspoiled by you [President Mikheil Saakashvili]”.

Georgian youth of pure blood?  Holy shit, it’s the muggle version of Bellatrix Lestrange.

This letter has cost Iveri some engagements, the most notable of which was with the National Opera in Paris (which is a pretty prestigious gig).  However, she’s about to sing Desdemona in Otello for Opera Australia in July and Tosca later this year in Melbourne.  Noted Australian vocal coach/pianist Siro Battaglin put it perfectly:

Siro Battaglin says: “I feel sorry for my gay colleagues working on that production who are forced to be polite to her.”

Outside the United States (and even in the United States) opera is a very competitive field.  It’s unreal.  So yeah, you don’t want to act unprofessionally, especially to one of the leads, and get that reputation.  I cannot imagine how miserable the gay people in any of Iveri’s upcoming productions will be.

I think I might lose my job.  Cruelty to gay people makes me furious in general, but admittedly seeing it in the arts, which are generally more friendly to LGBT people than the rest of the population, really chaps me.

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