Just in: Hungary bans Billy Elliot as unChristian

Just in: Hungary bans Billy Elliot as unChristian


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2018

The Hungarian State Opera has, on orders from Victor Orban’s (pictured) government, taken off the musical Billy Elliot after 15 performances.

The reason: ‘all public bodies are obliged to protect the identity and Christian culture of Hungary.’

Billy Elliot is the story of a boy from a mining village who wants to be a ballet dancer. Some of the dancers he meets may be gay.


  • Barry Guerrero says:

    “Christian culture of Hungary”


  • Hilary says:

    I guess that means Tippett’s ‘Knot Garden’ is unlikely to get a premiere in Hungary in the near future.

  • Sue says:

    I taught the film “Billy Elliott” to 14y/o in high school and, though at first very resistant (‘ew, this is classical ballet miss’) they ended up absolutely loving it!! Don’t know about the opera or musical – it would be hard to beat the magnificent film.

  • MacroV says:

    I know Hungary has been headed in a bad way for a while, but outright banning a performance of something? That’s a new line crossed, it appears.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Hungarian regime looks with great anticipation towards all the red lines it is going to cross. It is an atavistic urge, that occasionally bubbles-up, like the protestations against the Habsburg Empire and the sympathies for the nazis in the thirties and fourties which made Bartok flee the country. A friend of mine lives in Budapest and he assures me that not ALL Hungarians are like that.

      • Sue says:

        I watched ‘highlights’ of the Ed Sullivan Show from 1956 yesterday and Elvis was the guest. Sullivan praised him for the work he’d done to raise money for the Hungarians to prevent them from starvation at the hands of the Russians.

        People have such short memories.

  • Doug says:

    At least there is one man bedsides Trump with his hands on the reigns of power, thank goodness.

    And to all you armchair revolutionaries, call your maid in now. Your heads are about to explode:


  • George says:

    Was that Plácido in the role of Billy?

    • Julia says:

      That’s hilarious!!

    • mr oakmountain says:

      Rumour is, if he has to stop singing publicly in 15 to 20 years, he might start a career as a dancer.

    • Bylle Binder says:

      That would be rather funny, especially because the author of the original script said once in an interview it was Sir Thomas Allen who’s story inspired him for Billy Elliot.

      However, PD dancing … and here I thought it could become worse as him pretending to be a baritone!

  • Simon A Bird says:

    Is it accurate to say it has been banned…? See below.

    From the Pink Paper report posted just now…

    Szilveszter Okovacs, director of the Hungary National Opera, told Hungarian site 444.hu: ”As you know, the negative campaign in recent weeks against the Billy Elliot production led to a big drop in ticket sales and for this reason we are cancelling 15 performances in line with the decision of our management.”

    Okovacs had replied to the article and highlighted that the only gay character from the original script, Billy’s friend Michael, was not in the production.

    Interesting; was sure this (important) character was in the stage version I saw…adaptation for local consumption – but quite a big adaptation; wonder if this is true…

  • anon says:

    Are Harry Potter films banned in Hungary?

    I know a lot of Christians who made their kids go see the Narnia series (CS Lewis, devout Christian, the Lion being parable for Jesus) instead of Harry Potter.

    The kids are now in therapy. (But hey, what’s a life time of therapy compared to eternity in heaven?)

    • Elizabeth Owen says:

      Years ago I saw a production at that pacifist theatre that used to be in Victoria, can’t remember its name. Anyway all the lights went out, total blackout, just for a few seconds but all the children began to scream. When the lights came back on, the Lion/Jesus? came down centre stage and screamed at the audience “shut the f*** up”. After that the audience booed everytime he came on and cheered that baddy. Ha ha.

  • Anon says:

    The stories I read said many nights have been cancelled following a newspaper campaign. One story suggested there were other nights still going ahead. I also saw no evidence that the Hungarian government ordered it to be banned. Do you have a source?

  • Sharon says:

    I seldom find British humor funny. Is this true for most Americans? (Although I do not find most American sit coms funny either)

  • barry guerrero says:

    As a kid I always wondered, “who the hell is the Holy Ghost?”.

  • Marcell N. says:

    As of today there are 37 performances left, of which 15 are now cancelled. One show is sold out, but literally thousands of tickets are available for the remaining 21 performances (see the link below).

    It is quite far from being banned, nevertheless there was much nastiness in the reasoning of the cancellation which blamed ailing ticket sales after an ignorant homophobic attack in Magyar Idők, a newspaper that is admittedly backed by Orbán’s government.


    • BillG says:

      One paper is bad enough. At least the Government hasn’t started any crap about racial purity. Stuff like this remains a cause for concern.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        I believe Orbán has used the term “ethnic homogeneity”. SO much better than saying “racist”…

      • V.Lind says:

        Stick around. Orban has LONG advocated Hungary for the Hungarians, and has resisted immigration of any ethnic minorities. His government — as several others in Eastern Europe — has flouted EU directives on refugee sharing.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Um…whatever you may think about “immigrant sharing”, and despite some people (such as Merkel), wanting to “share immigrants”, it isn’t actually EU policy. There are a large number of legitimate reasons to dislike the current regime in Hungary without inventing them.

  • Herbert Gussett says:

    If its homosexuality then Dave Allen is your man for an appropriate anecdote.


  • Paul Davis says:

    Hung gay…ruin politics….Or ban(!) all showsz.

  • Bruce says:

    I guess in the “Hungarian Christian” version of Billy Elliott, the kid would just have the crap beaten out of him over & over again until he gave up…

  • Edgar says:

    One more step toward fascism, a great Hungarian heritage. For a certain kind of Hungarians, that is. the others are leaving before it is too late and the country degenerates into the Orban concentration camp.

  • Sue says:

    “Kaparthy, that Hungarian, was he there? That blackguard who uses the science of speech more to blackmail and swindle than teach. He made it the devilish business of his to find out who this Miss Doolittle is…everytime I looked around, there he was – that hairy hound from Budapest; never have I ever known a ruder pest”.