Cher Public

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Equal temperament

On the occasion of “the greatest party for Classical Music on the planet,” the Last Night of the Proms, mezzo Joyce DiDonato quietly (but audibly) takes a stand for equality. (Photo: Josef Fischnaller)


  • 1
    LittleMasterMiles says:

    I knew that I simply had to personally dedicate my performance on Saturday to all of those brave, valorous gay and lesbian souls whose voices are currently being silenced – either by family, friends, or by their government. As I’ve done in the past, this is a very individual dedication made only here (not on the stage of the glorious Royal Albert Hall).

    Two cheers for JDD’s secret dedication of her Last Night performance of “Over the Rainbow” to gay fans. Three thousand cheers and more if she makes it a REAL dedication by announcing it from the stage.

    At her Wigmore Hall recital last year JDD publicly dedicated one of her encores to the memory of a stage hand (or other staff member?) at Covent Garden. It was a sweet gesture, but a public, on-air dedication of “Over the Rainbow” would mean so much more.

  • 2
    redbear says:

    And I have to read this in French!
    Alors que la pétition lancée par Andrew Rudin contre les lois anti-gay de Vladimir Poutine totalise désormais près de 8000 signatures, le Metropolitan Opera campe toujours sur ses positions et refuse de dédier aux homosexuels russes sa soirée d’ouverture de saison ; quant à Anna Netrebko et Valery Gergiev, interpellés sur leur soutien à Poutine, ils n’ont toujours pas daigné répondre (voir brèves des 7 et 9 août). Il en va tout autrement dans une ville aussi gay-friendly que San Francisco, où aura lieu le 6 septembre à partir de 19h une veillée d’information proposée par des militants de diverses organisations. Même si l’on attend encore une réponse de l’Opéra de San Francisco (et de la soprano Patricia Racette, mariée depuis 2005 à la mezzo Beth Clayton) : la soirée de gala, donnée à l’occasion de la première représentation de Mefistofele, pourrait bien être placée sous le signe de la solidarité avec la population gay et lesbienne de Russie.

  • 3
    alejandro says:

    Brava, Joyce . . . but I don’t know why it would not be appropriate to discuss on stage?

    I’m sure a huge % of the people in the audience would applaud your dedication.

    But overall, I appreciate that Joyce di Donato exists in the world of music today. She is an incredibly gifted singer and such an articulate and passionate human being. And I am so glad she is a staunch arts education supporter. This is a big boogeyman in American education lately, but I think it’s to our detriment. I don’t know what I would have done without the teachers who introduced me to Michelangelo, Mozart, Chekhov, Bach, Lorca, Shakespeare, the Greeks, and Beethoven at an early age.

    • 3.1
      Edward George says:

      Joyce gives her reasons for not speaking on the stage here:

      She also explains here:
      that it has great personal resonance for her.

      • 3.1.1
        LittleMasterMiles says:

        So the fault is the BBC’s, not JDD’s. But since when is human equality a “political” issue, and—more laughably—since when is the flag-waving hyper-patriotic Last Night of the Proms not thoroughly political? Perhaps Marin Alsop, the first woman to conduct at the Last Night, will be bolder.

          antikitschychick says:

          YOU GO GIRL! :-D

          Also, just for the record, she is a shining example of what “real” politicians should be doing, which is using their platforms to empower others.

          antikitschychick says:

          “since when is the flag-waving hyper-patriotic Last Night of the Proms not thoroughly political?”

          ITA a huge portion of it (esp the rule Britannia bit) is like imperialism personified LOL.

          As for the Met and Gelb, though I agree with you that its complete bullshit to say politics and art don’t mix, they are sort of victims of the series of unfortunate events that have taken place. Frankly I am more upset with AN for that dodgy statement she released and with Valery who hasn’t even addressed the issue but they are not the ones implementing the various forms of discrimination as Joyce points out, its Putin and his regime who are to blame. Hopefully they will both realize that he is just worthy of their support.

          • LittleMasterMiles says:

            Gergiev is anything but an innocent bystander. He has supported Putin in political ads in Russia; any claim that his art is uncorrupted by politics is nonsense.

  • 4
    LittleMasterMiles says:

    Further to the Met’s refusal to make a statement about gay persecution in Russia on a night featuring Gergiev and Netrebko (both public supporters of Putin) performing a work by a gay Russian composer, does anyone know of an organized protest being planned for September 23? Gelb has apparently trotted out the biggest canard of them all, that art and politics shouldn’t mix.

  • 5
    operaassport says:

    LittleMasterMiles: lets give the MET Opening Night a break and not burden it with protests over something it has nothing to do with. I find Gergiev’s support for dictatorships appalling but I don’t support boycotts. There are many artists who support things I don’t approve of. If I protested or boycotted them, who would be left for me to enjoy? I find Vanessa Redgrave’s support of Palestinians to be bordering on thinly veiled anti-Semitism but she’s a great actress and I wouldn’t miss one of her performances.

    Let’s leave protests and boycotts outside the realm of these occasions. And using this as an excuse to bash Peter Gelb is rather silly.

    • 5.1
      LittleMasterMiles says:

      As JDD put it in her blog, silence speaks volumes. Gergiev and Netrebko are both vocal supporters of Putin, and the Met has hired them to perform on opening night. Everyone in the building that night is making a statement one way or the other. Which side are you on?

      • 5.1.1
        operaassport says:

        LMM: I’m sorry but that’s a frankly ridiculous position. Sides? Seriously? I’m on the side of art.

  • 6
    adina says:

    What a classy lady. I love you, Joyce!

  • 7
    The_Kid says:

    JDD has done a brave, wonderful thing, and it reminds us of another holocaust which did not go unacknowledged by the Met performers. I have very little to say to those who are burying their collective ignorant heads in the sand instead of supporting activism (even if it means a disrupted ‘Onegin’ or a pissed-off Netrebko). History, I suspect, will have the last word on the subject. Ask Germaine Lubin.

  • 8
    The_Kid says:

    …….this, as most of you will already know, is a Met performance of “La Fille du Regiment”, where Lily Pons waved the Cross of Lorraine flag (symbol of the Free French Forces of World War II) and sang a few bars of La Marseillaise. She received a standing ovation.

    Recorded at the Old Met on 12/28/1940.

  • 9
    LittleMasterMiles says:

    Here’s a link to the petition asking the Met to dedicate the opening night performance of Eugene Onegin to LGBT people, with more information on Gergiev’s and Nerebko’s support of Putin and his anti-gay policies:

  • 10
    LittleMasterMiles says:

    Dan Savage has also spoken out about this petition and the possibility of other protests. I hope other journalists (including “our own” JJ) might do likewise.

  • 11
    operaassport says:

    It seems to me some people are hyperventilating over this. I’m always suspicious of anything that gets compared to Hitler or the Nazis (see Syria). I’m an out and proud gay man but this just seems blown all out of proportion. I don’t see how anyone could hold the MET responsible. And asking someone what side they are on -- in the way it was asked -- reminds me too much of Joe McCarthy or that Bush who said you’re either for us or against us.

    I think things are grater and less black and white and a more nuanced approach to the subject might be better.

    • 11.1
      LittleMasterMiles says:

      Well, Netrebko stated her support of gay people in general without making any reference to the policies of Putin, whom she supported in his last campaign. Her statement could now literally get her arrested in Russia (an act that many here would have strong feelings about), but of course it won’t because it would be more useful to the regime to make her a one-woman Potemkin village. It’s gay Russian youth who are subject to torture, as has been happening recently (I assume many here have strong feeling about that too).

      And (warning: Nazi allusion ahead) should artists supporting the Third Reich have been given a free pass at the Met just before or during WWII? Artists who involve themselves directly in politics deserve, as public figures, to be held accountable for their political statements and acts. Claiming to be solely interested in art is simply sticking your head in the sand.

      I’ll admit that my views on the human rights of gay people are not terribly nuanced.

      • 11.1.1
        operaassport says:

        One of the problems is who is it who gets to decide what “rights” or “laws” are worthy of support? Is it just gay rights? What about abortion rights? What if there was an organized protest/boycott against any artist or institution who supported abortion rights? There are just as many people who consider life a basic human right as consider gay rights a basic human right. Would that be okay with you or would you deride those people?

        Perhaps there should be a questionnaire of any artist hired by the MET asking their opinion on every issue of the day. I suppose some could form a committee who would decide what the correct answer to each question is. Because that is the slippery slope one goes down.

        Why stop with Nazis? How about any artist who supports the Chinese regime which is responsible for the deaths of millions. No Lang Lang I suppose.

        Lets not forget that until a year or so ago our own president was in favor of a system that provided second class status for gay people in regards to equal marriage rights.

        So it isn’t black and white but holding an artistic institution responsible for the beliefs of its contract employees is something that makes no sense.

  • 12
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Waiting in the wings…

  • 13
    Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

    BTW Joyce DiDonato is on BBC Radio 3 right now and until midday EST, picking music that has influenced her career.

  • 14
    CwbyLA says:

    She sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow magnificently.