Opera house bans ‘homophobe’ soprano

Opera house bans ‘homophobe’ soprano


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2014

La Monnaie Opera in Brussels has cancelled next seasons contract with Tamar Iveri, a Georgian soprano who is accused of making extreme homophobic comments on her Facebook page. She was to have sung there in Ballo in Maschera. Monnaie intendant Peter Caluwé notified a Dutch website that he dropped her and confirmed the sacking to slippedisc.com.

Opera Australia, where Ms Iveri is due to sing Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello in two weeks time, is resisting social pressure to replace her, saying she has apologised for remarks published in her name.

It issued a statement saying: ‘Opera Australia has become aware in the past 24 hours, of the media and social media coverage of comments reported to have been made by soprano Tamar Iveri … Tamar Iveri has sought to clarify her views on this important issue, and has issued an apology and explanation on her own Facebook page … Rehearsals and performances at Opera Australia are continuing as planned.’

Ms Iveri has sought to dissociate herself from the published remakrs, saying they were issued by her husband without her knowledge.

Here’s what she writes on her Fb page:


tamar iveri



I am shocked and saddened by the reports in the internet and in the Australian media calling me a homophobic.

For my entire career I have been working with gay people and some of them are very dear friends. All of them can confirm that I never lost a word that might associate me with homophobic ideas. I respect every single human being and I am against all kind of descrimination and violence.

Please let me explain what lead to the recent articles that you might have read:

On the 17th of May 2013 a gay parade was supposed to pass directly in the yard of an Orthodox Church in Tiflis. At the same place and for the same date a commemoration for Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan had been announced. For that reason and because Georgia is a country where 90% of the population are deeply religious, conservative Orthodox Christians I wanted to express my sincere doubts that a parade made sense under these circumstances, in the yard of an Orthodox church. I was worried that this would provoke people and lead to violence. Unfortunately this is what happened then.

Besides myself my husband was using my Facebook account at that time and he is a very religious man with a tough attitude towards gay people. He copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name. You might imagine that I was not happy with that at all and I immediately deleted it when I saw the text about half an hour later. This text does not express my own opinion. I’m afraid it was too late and the text was already spreading in the internet.

I explained the situation and officially apologized to the LGBT community in Georgia a year ago and they accepted my apology.

I would also like to point out that it was not Paris Opera that cancelled my recital on the 1st of June 2013 as stated in some of the articles, but that I had to cancel it due to a indisposition.

Furthermore I never wrote an official letter to the Georgian president on this matter, it was a Facebook post that was copied and used for the article a year ago.

Best regards,
Tamar Iveri


  • Guus Mostart says:

    Bravo Peter de Caluwe for taking a stand and cancelling Ms. Iveri’s contract. No easy decision all considering. Australian Opera should now do the same.

    • Martin says:

      What exactly is wrong in questioning, if it is right to allow a gay parade in front of an Orthodox church on a day a commemoration takes place there?

      In Georgia, LBGT are the minority compared to the Orthodox. A minority has to adapt to the majority just as well as the majority shall understand the needs of the minority. You can not ask the commemoration to take place alsewhere, but you can easily divert the parade onto another route. Hence the logical decision here would have been to move the parade away from the commemoration.

      • Guus Mostart says:

        The point is homophobic remarks, not the route of the parade. Homophobia in Russia is becoming more menacing, actively supported by the Orthodox church.

      • Chris says:

        If this really is the extent of the controversy I would consider it extremely minor. Inasmuch as offence has been caused, Ms Iveri would seem to have done her utmost to apologise and seek to move on (this would also seem to be a relatively old story, and the case appears to be closed in Georgia following her apology to the LGBT community). As for the actual substance of the issue raised, I agree wholeheartedly with Martin above – it seems that Ms Iveri may even have been proved correct in her concerns.
        What worries me more is the politicisation of an art form to the extent that the expression by a performer of certain views, however much one might find them distasteful, is simply not allowed. Opera Australia is to be applauded for, so far, resisting the calls to sack Ms Iveri, although it seems clear that she is in for a rough ride when she appears on stage.
        If the husband’s doctored version of the original post contained incitement to violence, then this would presumably be a police matter. If not, it sets a dangerous precedent to sack an artist for holding specific views on society, religion and ethics, and in my view demonstrates for the umpteenth time the fundamental illiberality of the liberal establishment.

        • sdReader says:

          A lot of words, Chris, but if you were gay and someone referred to gay people as “fecal matter,” your mind would close fast.

        • Max Grimm says:

          I too agree that increasing politicization and an increasingly abstruse definition & application of “political correctness” can have unsettling consequences for some artists. I am also of the opinion that Mrs. Iveri (and anyone else) is entitled to have their opinions (be it about homosexuals or anything else). By extension, other persons are entitled to be disgusted with the opinions of Mrs. Iveri and her husband and have the right to refrain from working with her.

      • Mikey says:

        Facts are a good thing.
        The LGBT parade was not on the same day as the commemoration event.
        The LGBT parade route did not go anywhere NEAR where the other event was being held.

        The whole thing is lies upon lies and layers deep of grotesque homophobia.

        In your opinion, because LGBT people are the minority, they should do as the majority tell them?
        So if the majority want all LGBT people killed, then they should just acquiesce?

        I can easily imagine where you would have stood in 1940.

        • Una says:

          You see, you are falling into another trap by calling her a liar! Telling lies or being a liar amounts to the same thing. So many on these sites who don’t even know her, have concentrated on the written word, interpreted in translation what was said, are guilty of being both judge and jury. I wonder if there is such a thing as forgiveness in life after reading all of these sites? She’s opened her mouth or her husband has in broken English, and whilst you may not like what she said, constantly throwing mud at this woman from your own postitions of perfection – as if you have never done anything wrong yourselves – is not a great position to be in. I know it’s a blog, but having been made unemployable as a singer, don’t you think she has suffered now enough? What do you want her to do now? Commit suicide? She has said sorry. Surely forgiveness should follow in the way we would be expected to be forgiven for whatever wrong we might have done. Remember everybody has skeletons in their cupboards – everybody. Oh well … I shall join the site again when this had died down and all the hate has gone. No doubt you will now have a go at me as result, but it’s the price you pay. I feel now it’s time to talk about Beethoven!!

  • Max McLean says:

    The opposition to Tamar Iveri signing in Opera Australia’s forthcoming Sydney and Melbourne seasons is intense and increasing. The veracity of her clarifications, reproduced here, is under question given comments she has made elsewhere which have since come to light. In the present climate it is hard to imagine her being able to sing in either city, even if OA don’t replace her.

  • Rob says:

    Once again, religious attitudes poison the arts.

    • Una says:

      People are entitled to be religious, have a faith and have standards in life without being criticised as well.

  • Guus Mostart says:

    Opera Australia has just released her from her contract.

  • Hugh Canning says:

    It has also emerged that she gave an interview last September defending her letter to the then Georgian president – although she did make an apology of sorts to the Gay and Lesbian organisation in Georgia – without mentioning the involvement of her husband. Strange that….

  • Una says:

    Enter your comment here…