Guardian stirs hornets’ nest over racial casting

Guardian stirs hornets’ nest over racial casting


norman lebrecht

October 16, 2017

The Guardian newspaper published a singularly ill-informed, politically-correct editorial today, denouncing Music Theatre Wales for casting an opera set in a Chinese restaurant without Chinese singers.

Peter Eotvos’s opera The Golden Dragon had been performed without much fuss outside London, until Hackney Empire bowed to unnamed pressure groups and refused to grant it stage time.

The Guardian acclaims this act of censorship as a victory for diversity.

Many of its readers appear to think otherwise.

Among almost 200 comments, you will find:

– Opera has never been a realist medium.

– Peter Eötvös’s previous opera *Three Sisters* (after Chekhov) was originally produced with all three sisters sung by male singers.

– If there were queues of Chinese opera performers who had been refused parts, then you know there might be a point. But somehow I doubt it. What the bloody hell are people supposed to do to get the seal of Guardian approval. The Welsh Music Theatre creates an opera production to illustrate the immigrant experience in a supportive way & it’s still fucking wrong.

– Speaking of diversity and relfecting how the UK looks today here’s a link to the Guardian’s editorial board.

– Guardian keeps banging on about diversity meanwhile elections throughout the west are increasingly being won by candidates who represent the opposite. People are clearly bored by having diversity shoved down their throats at every instance. This is why Brexit happened.

Read more here.


  • Minutewaltz says:

    Maybe the Guardian should look at the journalists it employs and ask itself why so many are public school educated before commenting on lack of diversity in other organisations.

  • Halldor says:

    There’s something slightly unnerving about that apologetic statement from MTW: confessing their wrongthink, begging for forgiveness and promising to correct their behaviour in future. Reminiscent of class enemies kneeling before a People’s Tribunal. You can almost see little red books being waved.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    I wonder if those “unnamed pressure groups” are regular opera goers.

  • Brian says:

    If I understand it correctly, this was an opera on Asian themes with an all-white cast and a white composer and producer. It sounds like it was sorely lacking the perspective of the very ethnic group it was seeking to portray. One wonders, couldn’t they have found at least one or two Asian artists to bring to the creative team?

    Perhaps not, but the producers could have clarified this before it blew up in front of them.

    • Anon says:

      define ‘Asian themes’!!!
      Was it about lactose intolerance?

      I heard it is about human themes. The plot is set in China.

    • Political correct music lover says:

      “… this was an opera on Asian themes with an all-white cast and a white composer and producer…”

      And worse still, not only a white composer, but a white and MALE composer. Probably financially well-off as well.

      It is a shame that those white well-off males are allowed to write and publish operas at all!

      It´s time for a new and global Cultural Revolution!

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        …and only French singers in La Bohème, preferably Parisian. The list of stupidity is endless and too many people are giving into this lobotomised nonsense. Those who possess no imagination seek only to destroy the work of those who do.

        • Anon says:

          You’ve obviously mixed up the words race and nationality here. Of course other Caucasian singers can sing in La Boheme. The difference here is in representation, and MTW should have sort out actors from that heritage to portray those characters, if possible. Otherwise really it’s no different from black-face or any kind of face for that matter.

          Just because white singers have played Otello and Butterfly and many others, in the past, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at how we go about our practices in a modern cultural landscape. Opera is way behind in that. We should strive to be inclusive and diverse and to seek to give voices to many different people from all walks of life and heritages.

      • Anon says:

        white male composers have long been represented in music making, and have an extremely strong voice. I’m not saying that a white male composer shouldn’t be writing music or producing work. I think the more important focus should be giving opportunities to so many more groups of people who cannot so easily share their voice. That specific includes women and BAME artists. Otherwise we will continue to have art solely created by one small portion of society for ever, and that is narrow minded, and frankly uninteresting.

    • kmiller says:

      If just one person commenting (on social or mainstream media) could also claim to have actually seen this opera, then there might be a worthwhile conversation to be had about diversity. I have, and I can see little more in the commentary than grand proclamations based on assumption. Please, do your due research before taking a stance on the piece. Sadly Hackney Empire has rid Londoners of their chance to do so.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    So, what about pantomime dames? Looks like no-one and nothing will be safe from the brainless, humourless left.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    “After an initial hesitation, Music Theatre Wales has finally done the right thing by promising a period of self-examination”

    Very Cultural Revolution. Mao Zedong, alive and well in Kings Place.

    • PaulD says:

      And at most American universities.

    • Anon says:

      Indeed. down to the word “self-examination”. In Marxism-Leninism it’s the synonym “Self-Criticism”. Scary times. How voluntarily and even eager wide groups of society embrace mental totalitarianism.

  • Michael Endres says:

    I stopped reading the Guardian years ago, too sanctimonious and PC self righteous for my tastebuds.
    Real news can be found elsewhere:

  • Sue says:

    Stop reading this rag. It is middle-low brow and with a reading age of 13. What can you expect in the dumbed-down world of PC and the slavish bien pensant followers?