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Vienna’s Lulu: Since #metoo, men don’t dare touch me

December 1, 2017 by norman lebrecht

27 comments.


The soprano Agneta Eichenholz is aware that 700 of her colleagues in Sweden have suffered sexual harassment, ‘that means all of us’.

But now she is feeling the knock-on effects.

She is asked: Is #metoo influencing the new “Lulu” production?

Agneta: Not in the outcome, but in the work. We’ve talked a lot about it, how women should respond to abuse. But now we have almost the opposite problem: the men are so careful with me, they hardly dare touch me. But then I have nothing to work with. That’s hard. I have to make it clear: Please touch me!


Comments (27)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Which is the principle of consent. Which is what this all about.

    1. Sue says:

      And a presumption of innocence and entitlement to a ‘day in court’? What happened to the rule of law?

      1. Anonymous says:

        Why should one not imply the other? Perhaps you should direct your prejudices elsewhere…

        1. Sue says:

          Don’t be naive and obfuscating; it’s ALL trial by media. When is just ONE of these claims of harassment going before the courts?

          1. Anonymous says:

            Don’t use me as a base note for your prejudices.

  2. Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s very strange. In the name of equality, putting an end to unwanted advances and establishing segregation in the name of protection, our political class is pushing our towns, cities and institutions to have more in common with Karachi than Kettering. Add to that the vilification of the excesses of alcohol – which will soon just mean alcohol pure and simple – and we’re on the way to…well, you fill in the blanks.

    1. Anon says:

      well, if you make it hard enough for men and women to meet and get intimate in real life, then you can bring always on commercial internet platforms that allow you a hedonistic sexual life style against a commercial fee.
      Just think about the profit making opportunities, if you could control and commercially benefit from the strongest primal instinct in us, the sexual one…
      Maybe that is all that is behind this extensive media campaign on all channels, to taint real life sexual courting between people as negative.

      1. Theodore McGuiver says:

        Interesting point. Hmm…

      2. F MORANA says:

        This falls under the category of . . .

        “A fine idea that takes root in rotted soil can yield only a deformed and rotten fruit.”

        1. Sue says:

          I, “by their fruits shall yet know them”. I like that.

      3. Ravi Narasimhan says:

        “I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.”
        — Ambassador deSadeski

        And somewhere in Palo Francisco, a startup is born.

    2. Sue says:

      Couldn’t agree more!! Freedoms are being eroded rapidly and the same people who nanny, censor and finger-wag today are those who complained about the religious right and their sanctimony and moral panic. Turns out to have been merely their own projections!! Well, who’d have thought?

  3. herrera says:

    “Please touch me!”

    Every consent has its limits.

    Suppose a tenor grabs Agneta by the pussy during rehearsal. Could he excuse himself by saying, well, you did say “please touch me”?

    Suppose a baritone’s hands linger just a bit too long and a bit too insistently on her breasts during a performance when though they rehearsed it differently?

    An “open invitation” is the worst kind of invitation, becaue it IS unclear.

    1. Anon says:

      Oh please, and what about good manners, decency and common sense? Why so many people seem to long for toralitarian control of all aspects of humanity?
      Back in the days when women were strong, a guy who did that, had her hand slapping his face hard.

      1. herrera says:

        “when women were strong, a guy who did that, had her hand slapping his face hard.”

        So you think slapping the violator in the face hard is the just punishment for someone who has just grabbed your genitals?

        And that the victim just needs to exercise self-enforcement of social norms?

        So that if a man who is willing to get a hard slap on the face in exchange for grabbing your genitals, it’d be just alright if he keeps grabbing you and you keep slapping him?

        And if I were passing by and saw this ridiculous scene, I would not have to call the police, because all that is happening is a strong woman exercising self-enforcement of norms by slapping the perpetrator, and the perpetrator is being justly punished every time he grabs your genitals so doesn’t need to be stopped by a third party?

        1. Anon says:

          But nobody has grabbed anyone by the pussy here. You know that your fantasy and reality are two different things? In the context Agneta Einchenholz says to their colleagues “touch me” here, it is very clear that that does not mean, she wants anyone to grab her by her private parts. Only you think that.

          1. Ferd burfle says:

            Trump did…. He’s a ‘star’ so it’s OK

      2. Sue says:

        …and that’s exactly what Camille Paglia has been saying recently. I can’t find the link, but she talked about exactly what you’ve just said.

      3. Theodore McGuiver says:

        @Anon: Bravo.

  4. SVM says:

    The problem of men being too cautious is manifestly preferable to sexual harassment. Reading the whole interview, it seems that Eichenholz acknowledges this implicitly.

    Her comments on the male-dominated facets of the opera world are interesting, but she makes a factual error when she claims that “Alle Opern wurden von Männern geschrieben.”. What she means, presumably, is something like “Alle Opern die in regelmäßigen Abständen gedreht werden wurden von Männern geschrieben.”. There *are* many operas composed by women (in fact, I gave a lecture on one such opera, without making any reference to the fact of the composer’s being a woman beyond the use of the pronouns “she” and “her”, earlier this week!), but, in common with the vast majority of operas (whether composed by a man or by a woman), they have not made it into the canon of operas which continue to see regular productions throughout the world long after the première and which are wont to be identified by title alone. So, can we try and avoid the ignorant generalisations (unless Eichenholz meant that no *good* operas have been composed by women, which would be a different argument from what I interpreted above)?

  5. Will says:

    Saying “Please touch me” is the definition of consent, which is what the whole thing has been about from the beginning. This isn’t a problem, it’s a massive step forward.

  6. boringfileclerk says:

    Touching of any kind should be forbidden!

    1. Sue says:

      (Clicks heels together),..”yes sir”.

  7. Bruce says:

    How I read this is: her fellow performers are somewhat loath to perform loathsome actions, even though their roles, and the opera, call for them to do so. (I’ve seen it before: the smuggler guy in “Carmen” was supposed to stomp around the stage kicking his sleeping men awake, and he was having trouble because it was something he would never do. The director had to explain that of course it wasn’t something he would do, but it was something his character would do. I hope it helped.)

    She’s clearly not saying “Everyone, please grope me anywhere, any time.” She’s saying “Let’s all play our roles and not worry about it.”

    From the interview (via Google Translate):

    In the very first production I was in, the conductor did not act as he should have. I was young, naive, but very self-confident – and went straight to the boss. He said: You have to deal with that yourself. The usual shit. Excuse me. After that, when something happened, I found my own way to handle it. I did not go to the boss anymore. Because it is so humiliating if they do not listen to you. Almost worse than the attack.

  8. db says:

    A real man knows exactly where the limits are. It’s really not that complicated.

    1. Sue says:

      And they’ll be given a very good idea about how to establish those limits from a popular culture – celebrated, what’s more – which sings about “f***ing your mother”. Can’t have it both ways; ain’t goooona happen.

    2. Anon says:

      Yes, but a real man can only grow up in a real world. With more and more aspects of our daily social interactions slipping into the realm of virtuality, loss of real empathetic social interaction included,
      Today we still have generations who grew up ‚for real‘. But already those born today are growing up only partially real, particularly when it comes to impressions about intimate interactions between people…


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