UK: Royal Opera defends 'distressing' rape scene after boos

AP News
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Posted: Jun 30, 2015 1:22 PM

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Royal Opera says it's sorry for causing distress but the show will go on after a rape scene in "Guillaume Tell" sparked boos and walkouts.

Director Damiano Michieletto's production of the 1829 Gioachino Rossini opera about Swiss apple-skewerer William Tell includes a scene in which soldiers strip a woman naked and assault her.

The sequence prompted loud boos at Monday's opening-night performance.

The Guardian's Tim Ashley found the scene "protracted and pruriently voyeuristic," while critic Richard Morrison in The Times called it "inexcusably nasty."

The company's director of opera, Kasper Holten, said the scene "puts the spotlight on the brutal reality of women being abused during wartime." He said it was meant to be uncomfortable to watch, but "we are sorry if some people have found this distressing."

Some audience members and critics were more appreciative. In London's Evening Standard, Barry Millington called it a flawed but powerful production, and said the rape scene was "sickening, but not, in the context, gratuitous."

Audiences are warned in advance that the production "features nudity and scenes of sexual violence." It is due to run until July 17 and will be broadcast to cinemas on Sunday.

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This story has been corrected to show the right spelling of the composer's name is Rossini, not Rossin.