Opera Australia has fired singer Tamar Iveri for a letter to the president of her home nation of Georgia posted on social media where she compared participants in a gay pride parade to human excrement.
A statement from the performance group stated that Iveri would not be allowed to continue with the company, and she would not perform in Otello as she was scheduled to do in Sydney in July and August.
Opera Australia has agreed with Tamar Iveri, to immediately release her from her contract with the company.
Criticism against her has mounted since it came to light this month that she had written the letter in May of 2013, referencing a pride parade which had occurred the March of that year. In the letter addressed to Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Iveri begged the president to "stop vigorous attempts to bring West's 'fecal masses' in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda" and claimed Iveri was happy that the pride parade was greeted with abuse by the Georgian population. This, despite the fact she also claimed she had many gay friends and relatives and "condemns any kind of violence."
Mr. President, it is clear that in recent years you have been bending your head to the West, regardless of its good or bad you have been doing it tirelessly, even up to now, but personally I, a person who condemns any kind of violence, having many gay friends and relatives.... yesterday, I was quite proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade, organized by your (and not just your) team. Forgive the nation, because the organizers' spoon fell not into ashes… but into the substance laying on the bottom of village toilets. If some people, persuaded by you … Frank or John wants to invest in Georgia... let them invest. They, along with our country, can benefit from it, but I am asking you one thing... please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West's "fecal masses" in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda. Do not try to wrap this mass in beautiful packages, pour Chanel perfume on it and present it to people as if it was something of medical, recreational qualities. No matter how unhappy "friendly West" might become, fortunately, the Georgian people are well aware of what fruits, offered by the West in their menu, to eat and what to discard. Just like my small dog guesses it.
The controversy took a very bizarre turn when on Saturday, Iveri claimed the letter wasn't hers at all, but rather her "very conservative" husband's. Her husband has denied this, but Iveri has not changed her story despite his public comments.
You might imagine that I was not happy with that at all and I immediately deleted it when I saw the text about half an hour later. This text does not express my own opinion.
Opera Australia has weathered a lot of criticism in the last few days over the matter, as there has been a significant social media backlash. The Opera Australia Facebook page has had more than a thousand posts calling for the company to drop Iveri. Slow to respond, the company has claimed it has been in communication with Iveri about the issue, and this has no doubt led to the agreement where she will leave the company.
Ms. Iveri and her husband have both made public statements in the last 48 hours with regards to comments attributed to Ms Iveri...She has unreservedly apologised for those comments and views...Opera Australia believes the views as stated to be unconscionable.
It's worth noting that the issue for Opera Australia may be purely monetary, as cynical as that might sound. Just yesterday, a spokeswoman for Qantas Airlines, a major sponsor of Opera Australia, said the air carrier was "deeply concerned" by the comments on Iveri's Facebook page and was "discussing them with Opera Australia." That sure sounds like major pressure not to have a star who publicly compares the LGBT community, a rapidly growing part of the travel sector's customer base, to shit.
Image via Getty.