Soprano claims Facebook letter was “changed considerably” by spouse with “tough attitude” towards gays.
The Georgian soprano, currently rehearsing in the role of Desdemona in Otello for Opera Australia next month, has hit back at reports that she is homophobic, claiming that her husband was responsible for the letter posted on her Facebook page last year.
“I am shocked and saddened by the reports in the internet and in the Australian media calling me a homophobic,” writes Tamar Iveri. “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 (sic) and violence.”
She goes on to say that her husband, Raul Tskhadadze, had access to her Facebook account, admitting him to be “a very religious man with a tough attitude towards gay people”. According to Iveri, “he copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name.”
When it was originally posted on Facebook, Iveri’s now infamous letter appears to have been written to the President of her country after the violent clashes between the LGBT community and Orthodox Christians had taken place, yet the singer maintains that her letter had been written as a warning about events that were yet to occur. “Georgia is a country where 90% of the population are deeply religious, conservative Orthodox Christians,” she says, “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.”
No details are given as to the specific changes to the letter, or which particular aspects of it were her husband's views rather than her own. She maintains that she deleted the text when she saw it but that “it was too late and the text was already spreading in the internet.” The soprano apparently officially apologised to the LGBT community in Georgia a year ago, “and they accepted my apology.” Her current Facebook post does not, however, address possible offence caused to any of her fellow singers or to potential audiences abroad.
Anger in Australia meanwhile is gathering pace and has spread beyond the opera community with many calling for Iveri to be dismissed from her contract or to have her visa revoked. Writing on Opera Australia and Iveri’s Facebook pages, and on the Limelight website many people suggest that her performances are likely to be boycotted at the very least and more than likely disrupted, while Sandra Hayes has started a petition at change.org calling for Opera Australia to "revoke Tamar Iveri's passport and visa to work in Australia immediately and irrevocably".
Opera Australia has issued a brief statement with regards to the media storm: “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. The company has made the singer aware of the response from the Australian media and people via social media. Tamar Iveri has sought to clarify her views on this important issue, and has issued an apology and explanation on her own Facebook page. This can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/tamariverisoprano Rehearsals and performances at Opera Australia are continuing as planned.”