Tamar Iveri sacked by Opera Australia over gay slur

Tamar Iveri performing Tamar Iveri says she has never been prejudiced and has worked for years with many gay performers without any issue

Opera singer Tamar Iveri has had her contract with Opera Australia terminated due to anti-gay comments posted on her Facebook page.

The Georgian-born soprano was due to play Desdemona in Otello next month in Sydney but the company said her contract had been terminated.

The comments on Iveri's Facebook page spoke of her pride at violent clashes during a gay rights march in Tbilisi.

Iveri has apologised and removed the posts saying her husband wrote them.

The comments on Facebook, apparently made more than a year ago, were regarding a gay pride march in Iveri's Georgian home city.

"I was quite proud of the fact of how Georgian society spat at the parade," said the post, said to be a letter to the Georgian president after Christian Orthodox groups assaulted people on the march.

"Please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West's 'faecal masses' in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda," she added.

Patrons of Opera Australia and also its sponsor company, the airline Qantas, protested over the comments.

'Abhor prejudice'

On Monday, Opera Australia described them as "unconscionable" on its own Facebook page and said the singer would no longer be performing with them.

"Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract with the company," it wrote.

"Opera Australia believes the views as stated to be unconscionable."

Spokeswoman Imogen Corlette said Otello would still open on 5 July as planned, and a replacement would be announced soon.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Iveri blamed her "deeply religious" husband for the anti-gay comments and said she herself was in no way homophobic.

"I have never been prejudiced against anyone, whether for religious, or racial reasons, or for any other kind of prejudice including those regarding sexual preference," she said.

"I abhor prejudice in any form altogether.

"I have been performing in an art form that includes thousands of gay people on both sides of the stage, and there is no one who can come forward and claim that I have ever exhibited any such prejudice against them.

"I have said before and say here again that the words attributed to me were not my own, and that I therefore cannot take personal responsibility for them."

La Monnaie Opera in Brussels has also said it is has dropped Iveri from one of its productions, due to take place next year.

Peter de Caluwe, general manager of Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, told Opera Nederland Iveri would no longer be part of the production.

Iveri made her debut at the 2004 Salzburg Festival and has performed at Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Arena di Verona and L'Opera Bastille.

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