Parisian-born conductor Frédéric Chaslin pulled out of a performance at the Israeli Opera Saturday, Jan. 10, after the company’s management denied his request to speak and play a tribute to victims of the terror attacks in France last week.
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Chaslin, who is French-Jewish, had asked to play “Hatikva,” the Israeli national anthem, during his performance of Puccini’s La Rondine in honor of the 17 people killed in Paris last week. But the Tel Aviv opera house refused, saying it may upset the audience. This refusal led to Chaslin to leave the theater with an understudy left to conduct the performance.
According to The Times of Israel, Chaslin commented on his Facebook page, saying the tribute was refused to him.
“‘It would upset our audience,’ he wrote. ’It is against the management’s policies.’ What management? What policy? Where am I? In a country supposed to be the sanctuary for all Jewish people in the world? Has the ‘audience’ of this country lost their souls? As a result of course I refused to conduct tonight,” he concluded.
Chaslin’s performance would have paid tribute to the killing of four hostages at a kosher supermarket, 12 at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine headquarters and one policewoman. A statement has been released by the Israeli Opera, stating that it hopes the theater can remain a safe haven from terror.
“The Israeli opera is pained by tragedy and its aftermath and its heart is with the French nation and Jewish community,” the statement said. “For the 30 years that the opera has been in operation, it has insisted on maintaining its routine even on the painful days of dozens of terror attacks and during wars. This is the way of the opera — not to allow terror to win and disturb the routine of our lives.”
Chaslin is the former conductor of the Santa Fe Opera and the son of Holocaust survivors. Ten more performances of La Rondine are scheduled, with no word from Chaslin on if he will continue to conduct them.