The French site ResMusica has announced it will no longer cover the Opéra de Lausanne after the company banned its resident Swiss critic, Jacques Schmitt, over an intemperate review.
Twelve days ago, Dutch National Opera withdrew press tickets from Olivier Keegel of the Belgian site operagazet.
Is this an issue of media freedom?
The case is not clear-cut. One UK opera house recently told me it gives press tickets to 40 – yes, 40 – online reviewers. Some are rank amateurs with a tiny following. But the opera press office, unwilling to provoke controversy, has been unable to decide which to retain and which to cull. At the opposite pole, a respected German site regularly complains that it is refused press tickets to Bayreuth and Salzburg.
Keegel’s review of DNO’s new season was extremely hostile with no balancing elements. Since the opera house knows his view before he crosses the threshold, it might be justified in withholding privileged access. Schmitt has reviewed some 60 Lausanne performances since 2005 without previously attracting adverse attention.