Opera Criticized for Controversial Scene

August 23, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. opera /ˈɒp ər ə/ (n.) – a composition or performance in which all parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment                                                                                               
Example: The viewers found the opera boring.

2. portray /pɔrˈtreɪ/ (v.) – to show on stage or in a painting, book, etc.
Example: The fight scene was not portrayed in the school play.

3. controversial /ˌkɒn trəˈvɜr ʃəl/ (adj.) – creating strong reactions and opinions among many people
Example: Many people wanted to ban the controversial book that criticized their religion.

4. depict /dɪˈpɪkt/ (v.) – to represent through art
Example: Movies depict unrealistic romantic relationships.

5. intention /ɪnˈtɛn ʃən/ (n.) – goal or objective
Example: The author’s intention in writing the book was to raise people’s awareness on environmental issues.


Read the text below.
The Royal Opera House’s William Tell was heavily criticized on its opening night on July 5.

During the live performance, the opera received boos from the audience because of its disturbing nude rape scene. The rape scene that was portrayed by the actors was part of the opera’s third act. This scene was not shown in the original opera of William Tell.

Kasper Holten, Director of Opera of the Royal Opera House, defended the controversial rape scene, saying that its purpose was to depict the harsh reality of what women experience during war. Holten and the team from the Royal Opera House, however, released a statement expressing great concern about how the public reacted to the disturbing scene. They added that it was never their intention to offend their audience. In response, the organizers have also already informed their ticket holders to give buyers an advance warning regarding the scene.

The opening night performance was shown in cinemas all over the world. It was, however, rated 15. This means that anyone under 15 years old cannot watch the show.

The opera William Tell was created by Italian composer Gioachino [jo-ah-KEE-no] Rossini in 1829. With four acts, it talks about the story of the Swiss hero Guillaume [gee-YOHM] Tell. He fought for Switzerland’s freedom from the Austrian occupation by leading a revolution.

William Tell is the last opera that Rossini created. He, in fact, called it his farewell opera.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Based on the article, do you think the opera deserves to be rated 15? Why?
·         If you were the director of the opera, how would you react to the audience’s criticism?

Discussion B

·         Do you think violence should always be censored in TV shows and movies? Why or why not?
·         What other topics or issues should be censored in TV shows and movies? Please explain your answer.

August 23, 2015