Culture 12:00 20/01/2020 Armenia

‘Shame on you’: German basses, Armenian actor slam Azeri tenor’s move to force Armenian soprano out of Dresden concert

Prominent Armenian actor Vartan Petrossian has strongly condemned the Dresden opera incident involving an Armenian singer as a “disgrace”, adding for an actor working in Europe it is “even impossible to comprehend.”

As reported earlier, Azerbaijani opera singer Yusif Eyvazov refused to share the stage with Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan during the Semper Opera Ball, a classical entertainment event in Dresden, Germany, scheduled for 7 February, because of the latter’s nationality. 

World famous opera singer Hasmik Papian expressed outrage over the incident in a post on Facebook, stressing that forcing Mantashyan out of the performance because of her ethnicity was political.

"I’ve come to learn about the recent, scandalous incident at the Dresden Opera House. In short, Azeri singer Yusuf Aivazov has refused to sing together with an Armenian singer Ruzan Mantashyan, due to which the organizers of the concert have abruptly stopped the process of preparation of Mantashyan’s agreement and have cancelled her appearance. Reading the media coverage of this incident I cannot conceal the voice of my resentment and anger and I cannot believe that such an insidious, ugly incident has taken place in an artistic setting, and, moreover, in modern day Europe, and in a civilized country like Germany,"  Vartan Petrossian wrote on Facebook. 

"For decades I have worked on many French stages, alongside an international and multicultural cast including French, Arabs, Russians, Italians, Jewish, Portuguese, Turkish ... and I have always admired the true integrity and high morale in the relationship between these international actors, directors, stage drivers, technicians, etc.

"For months I have shared the stage with a fellow Turkish actor in the performance titled "N'ayez pas peur" directed by the famous French director Robert Hossein. We have worked together in a warm and friendly manner, discussing even the issue of the Armenian-Turkish relations that was a heavy topic for both of us. We have worked together as humans, as brothers.

"The Dresden incident is a disgrace, and for an actor working in Europe it is even impossible to comprehend. The Dresden Opera Administration is the main responsible party for this outrageous phenomenon. However instead of politically condemning the Azerbaijani singer's racist act and taking appropriate sanctions against this, the administration on the contrary, based on his request has cancelled the agreement with the Armenian singer. Moreover they now wash their hands, declaring that they wish to have no business with some distant, Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict that was deliberately brought to the theater.

"I call upon all my colleagues in France, in the United States, in Canada, in Russia, and in all of Armenia, as well as in every other country, to raise their voice in protest against this inhuman manifestation of chauvinism; otherwise the virus of racism might spread across all European stages serving as a precedent and resulting in even more ugly and intolerable phenomena.

"I would also like to address the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Culture of the Republic of Armenia to make an announcement and take a rough stance in this matter," the actor said.  

In two separate Facebook posts on Sunday, Hasmik Papian shared the comments of German basses René Pape and Thomas Quasthoff on the incident.

“Usually I don’t comment on such things, but as a Dresden native and as an ambassador of music, art and antiracism, I have to tell my esteemed colleague Yusif to not bring any hate into my town or somewhere else,” Pape said in a statement.

“Yes Yusif, just in case you don’t know it, Dresden had a very bright and a very dark past and history, and also a very glorious musical one. This city is making its way again to be one of the greatest cities in Europe and in the world.

“To be invited to sing here and to make an audience happy is an honor and a privilege! You should be proud and happy to be asked to be a part of it,” he added.

“You want to be remembered as an artist, not as a hater.”

Thomas Quasthoff also decried the Azerbaijani singer's move. “Mr. Eyvazov, shame on you!" the German bass wrote. "Racism has no place in our profession as a singer and in this world in general.” 

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