Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Compassion Bypass? Met stars withdraw from Japan

"Fearing Radiation", Netrebko, Kaufmann and Calleja have withdrawn from the Met Opera's Japan tour just before it starts this week. (See story HERE) It's the Met's first tour to Japan since 2007, and the first visit by a big company since the March 11 earthquake, so it's very high profile indeed. In Japan, opera is taken extremely seriously so the Met's visit has huge symbolic implications. In situations like these, normal life must go on, so the country can rebuild. Boosting morale is a form of disaster relief. If ever there was a time to show solidarity with the Japanese people, this would be it.

Compassion bypass?  Of course everyone worries about radiation. But Tokyo is 240 km south west of Fukushima, and Nagoya is 270km even further south west than Tokyo. It's not like the Big Stars will be forced to live like millions in the north of Japan, where many still don't have proper housing or support. Statistically, millions in Japan are likely to suffer more than the Big Stars nominally exposed for a few days in swanky hotels. The rest of the Met crew who aren't so rich and famous don't have the option of playing chicken. In any case, ther Met wouldn't be sending nearly 400 people there if there was a serious risk. Imagine the lawsuits.

In Netrebko's defence, she's been cancelling all Spring, even before the earthquake, as has Levine. But the other two? Sure, they're scared. Everyone is. But it's not fair on Japanese opera audiences, on the Japanese people and on the rest of us all over the world who care about human suffering.

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