Disgraced soprano will perform in support of sexual minorities and victims of violence.
The disgraced Georgian soprano who left Opera Australia’s production of Otello last month following widespread howls of protest at homophobic remarks posted on her Facebook page, is to perform a charity concert for LGBTI rights. Tamar Iveri announced the Tbilisi concert, planned for October 11 (National Coming Out Day), at a joint press conference with Georgian gay rights organisation Identoba. “This is to apologise and to express support,” she said.
Iveri has been roundly condemned over the last month in a worldwide media storm after Limelight broke the story on June 20. A letter, bearing Iveri’s name and posted on her Facebook page, was addressed to the then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili criticising his condemnation of an attack by Orthodox Christians on a LGBTI parade in the Georgian capital in May 2013. In it, LGBTI people were described as “deviants” and homosexuality was referred to as part of the “faecal mass” being foisted on Georgia by the West. Iveri’s subsequent statement that her letter had been copied, changed and posted by her husband without her consent was challenged when an interview she gave last year came to light containing further prejudicial views regarding homosexuality. Identoba then published Iveri’s initial apology to them, in which she claimed to have written the offensive letter jointly with her husband.
As news of the Facebook post broke in Australia, the La Monnaie Opera in Brussels immediately terminated Iveri’s contract. Shortly afterwards, Opera Australia announced that they had released her from her contract to perform in Sydney. Iveri returned to Tbilisi and met with Identoba, the Georgian LGBTI organisation who kept the issue in the public eye. Last month they rescinded their acceptance of Iveri’s initial apology but after discussions with the soprano it appears that they are prepared to give her another chance.
“Tamar Iveri agreed that violence against human right defenders is undoubtedly harmful and that hate speech is unacceptable in public life,” said Identoba in a posting last night. “She expressed her deep concern for the pain that her Facebook statement caused to the LGBT individuals in Georgia and worldwide… Tamar Iveri expressed her desire to bring together notable Georgian and foreign opera singers and other artists for the day, and to express her support through a charity concert. Raised funds will be donated to various domestic violence victim shelters”.
Australians, meanwhile, have been keen to see what Opera Australia would do regarding Iveri’s appearances in Tosca, scheduled for this November. Her name discreetly disappeared from the OA website some days ago, but so far there has been no official statement from the national opera company. Lyndon Terracini, however, said in an interview with ABC TV last week that Iveri was unlikely to be seen in Australia again for a very long time. A spokesperson for Opera Australia confirmed that they expect to be making an announcement shortly.
Australian LGBTI activist Pauline Pantsdown was guardedly positive. “In terms of her proposed November concerts in Melbourne and others internationally the word is: Let’s wait and see,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Let’s see if this was JUST a stunt to save her career, or if she carries it through properly.”