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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Boos greet coke-snorting opera
Mozart
Don Giovanni was one of Mozart's most popular works
The English National Opera's modern day version of Don Giovanni was met with boos after audiences were shocked by the portrayal of the lead character snorting cocaine.

Director Calixto Bieito took the brunt of the abuse on opening night on Thursday as he took his curtain call at the Coliseum.

Don Giovanni was written by the Austrian composer in 1787 and tells the story of a heartless seducer and those whose lives he touches.

The ENO production sees Giovanni's debauchery in all its glory with orgies, drug-taking and explicit language.

Debut

Don Giovanni marks Bieito's first production at the ENO.

The ignominy of his debut occurred as he joined the actors on stage to receive applause.

Some angry opera-goers booed, hissed and waved programmes aloft to show their displeasure.

But a spokesman for the ENO said: "As well as the boos there were a lot of vocal cheers. It was about half and half, you either loved it or hated it.

"I have never seen an opera elicit such reaction but the fact that it got a reaction at all shows the relevance of opera in modern day.

"After all opera is all about passion."

The theatre is adamant that publicity before the opening clearly pointed out it was a modern-day production.

Bieito is the artistic director of the Teatro Romea in Barcelona where he has directed such productions as Carmen and Cosi Fan Tutte for the Welsh National Opera (WNO).

His next project will be with the WNO on a production of Die Fledermaus in September.

He returns to the ENO in February with his production of The Masked Ball which has been performed in Barcelona and Copenhagen.

See also:

27 Mar 01 | Arts
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22 Mar 01 | Reviews
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21 Mar 01 | Reviews
Solitude unlikely for 'Boulevard'
23 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera star strikes blow for women
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera meets Bollywood
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