Updated: 06/23/2014 12:50 | By Agence France-Presse

Opera Australia sacks soprano over anti-gay slur

Leading soprano Tamar Iveri on Monday had her contract torn up by Opera Australia for "unconscionable" anti-gay comments posted on her Facebook page that sparked a storm of protest.


Opera Australia sacks soprano over anti-gay slur

Gay rights activists rally in front of the Georgian parliament Tbilisi, on May 18, 2012 - by Vano Shlamov

The Georgian, daughter of acclaimed baritone Avtandil Javakishvili, referred to homosexuals as "fecal masses" in reacting to a gay pride march in Tblisi.

"I was quite proud of the fact how Georgian society spat at the parade ... please, stop vigorous attempts to bring West's 'fecal masses' in the mentality of the people by means of propaganda," said the post, which was later taken down.

The comments, made 18 months ago, sparked a backlash in Australia, culminating as Iveri was due to perform the role of Desdemona in Verdi's Otello from July 5 at the Sydney Opera House.

Many people threatened to boycott the company or cancel their subscriptions if they continued to employ her, while lashing out at Opera Australia on social media for not taking a tougher stance.

"Opera Australia has reached agreement with Ms Iveri to immediately release her from her contract with the company," the company said in a statement Monday.

"Ms Iveri and her husband have both made public statements in the last 48 hours with regards to comments attributed to Ms Iveri.

"Ms Iveri has unreservedly apologised for those comments and views. Opera Australia believes the views as stated to be unconscionable."

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Iveri blamed her husband for the offensive comments made. She said he was "deeply religious" and has a "tough attitude towards gay people".

"He copied my text, changed it considerably and posted it under my name," she said. 

"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. I'm afraid it was too late and the text was already spreading in the Internet."

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.

Sydney is home to a colourful gay pride parade which attracts thousands of visitors each year.

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