West Australian Opera Bans Carmen Due to Smoking

News   West Australian Opera Bans Carmen Due to Smoking West Australian Opera has banned productions of Carmen due to its depiction of smoking during the performance, according to the Associated Press.

The ban lasts the duration of a 400,000 Australian dollar ($355,000) sponsorship deal between the Perth-based, state-owned opera company and a state government health promotion agency, Healthway. The deal begins in March.

Georges Bizet's opera follows a naive soldier's downfall through the seduction of a wild gypsy.

According to the AP, the opera's general manager, Carolyn Chard, told The West Australian newspaper, "We are about the health and well-being of our staff, stage performers and all the opera lovers throughout (Western Australia), which means promoting health messages and not portraying any activities that could be seen to promote unhealthy behavior."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who referred to the decision as "political correctness gone crazy," told Perth Radio 6PR, "We don't stop the theatre from running Macbeth because it promotes killing kings."

The AP reports that Healthway chairwoman Rosanna Capolingua said her board was "quite surprised" by opera's Chard offering to ban Carmen. "They brought that to us and we said: 'Fine.' It was their choice and their decision. It's a clever move to grab the Healthwise dollars for a couple of years," Capolingua told the AP.

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett told reporters, "If that sponsorship arrangement through Healthway led to the cancellation of the opera, that is a... serious mistake that smacks of basically arts censorship. Arts censorship is not their role."

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