Opera Australia sacks leading soprano Tamar Iveri over anti-gay comments

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 9:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 9:14pm


Leading soprano Tamar Iveri yesterday had her contract torn up by Opera Australia for "unconscionable" anti-gay comments posted on her Facebook page that sparked a storm of protest.

The posting in the name of the Georgian daughter of acclaimed baritone Avtandil Javakishvili referred to homosexuals as "faecal masses" in reacting to a gay pride march in Tblisi.

"I was quite proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade ... please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West's 'faecal masses' in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda," said the post, which was later taken down.

The comments, made 18 months ago, sparked a backlash in Australia, culminating as Iveri was due to perform the role of Desdemona in Verdi's Otello from July 5 at the Sydney Opera House. Many people threatened to boycott the company or cancel subscriptions.

"Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract," it said yesterday.

"Ms Iveri and her husband have both made public statements in the last 48 hours with regards to comments attributed to Ms Iveri. Ms Iveri has unreservedly apologised for those comments and views. Opera Australia believes the views as stated to be unconscionable."

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Iveri blamed her husband for the offensive comments made. She said he was "deeply religious" and has a "tough attitude towards gay people".

"He copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name," she said. "You might imagine that I was not happy with that at all … This text does not express my own opinion."