Desdemona Down

Desdemona Down

Jenna Simeonov

After an impressive media tempest, soprano Tamar Iveri will not be appearing as Desdemona in Opera Australia’s upcoming production of Otello. OA made the decision to replace Tamar after the singer’s homophobic remarks were made public. She recently gave a prickly, quasi-apology on her Facebook page, but it didn’t seem to be swaying many opera lovers and LGBT non-haters.

One of the debatable sides of this sticky issue is the right to one’s own opinions, and the possible irony that comes with an attempt to professionally oust someone based on their own beliefs. I get that. It’s not true, though, that all opinions warrant equal amounts of respect. Tamar Iveri (and/or, perhaps, her husband) showed gross levels of homophobia and ignorance, and recklessly low levels of professional tact. I suppose a personally-held belief that homosexuals are comparable to “fecal masses” is harmless enough if it stays an inner-monologue; homophobia could get a pass if it resulted in no action that harmed others. But Tamar works in a gay-is-normal industry, and her opinions were articulated publicly. What had she been thinking of her fellow colleagues during her contracts in Vienna, Paris and Munich? Did she not notice that the potentially gay singers, directors, conductors, and coaches she worked with were also a talented bunch, with more to them than their sexual preferences?

So, no: not all opinions are valid, and we don’t have to give reverence to all of them. Some of them are based on ignorance and stubbornness. I’m glad she’s dealing with some tangible consequences, beyond the circus of angry commenters on her Facebook page. You don’t get to spew uninformed “beliefs” and continue to work within an industry that’s grown out of such cretinous discrimination.

Opera Australia hasn’t yet announced who will take over for Tamar in Otello; the role of Desdemona is no longer included in the cast list on OA’s website. I applaud them for listening to the public’s response in regards to Tamar’s contract in Sydney. We’ll see what the future holds for this opinionated lady.

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