FRANCE

Paris Opera expels veiled woman during Verdi’s Traviata

Luc Jouvence, AFP / Place de la Bastille's iconic July Column with the opera house in the background
Luc Jouvence, AFP / Place de la Bastille's iconic July Column with the opera house in the background
2 min

French officials are updating rules on wearing face veils in public after it emerged that a veiled woman was told to leave Paris’s Opera Bastille during a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata earlier this month.

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The veiled woman was spotted by surveillance cameras and members of the choir during the performance on October 3, the opera’s deputy director Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP on Sunday, confirming media reports.

She was sitting in the front row, just behind the conductor, wearing a scarf covering her hair and a veil over her mouth and nose.

France introduced a controversial law in 2011 banning people from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, including masks, helmets, balaclavas and niqabs.

Offenders face a fine of 150 euros.

Choir members ‘refused to sing’

Thiellay said he was alerted to the veiled woman’s presence during the second act, adding that "some performers said they did not want to sing" if something was not done.

The spectator and her companion -- tourists from the Gulf, according to French daily MetroNews -- were asked to leave by an inspector during the intermission.

"He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room. The man asked the woman to get up, they left," Thiellay said.

"It's never nice to ask someone to leave. But it’s the law and we are a public institution," he said.

Reacting to reports of the incident, France's Ministry of Culture said it would send new guidelines to theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision reminding them of the rules regarding veils.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

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