16 February 2023

Ballet company ‘sacks’ director who smeared dog poo in critic’s face

16 February 2023

The Hanover State Opera said on Thursday that it is ending its contract with ballet director Marco Goecke after he smeared dog poo in the face of a female newspaper critic whose reviews he had taken exception to.

Mr Goecke was suspended from his post as ballet chief this week after the attack on dance critic Wiebke Huester of the German daily newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The confrontation took place during the interval of a premiere at the opera house on Saturday.

The theatre’s management had called on him to apologise “comprehensively” and explain himself.

Mr Goecke later issued a statement describing his behaviour as “absolutely unacceptable” but said he had acted “in the heat of the moment” and while suffering from “nervous strain” resulting from two premieres in quick succession.

He accused Ms Huester of writing “often nasty reviews”.

“I apologise for the fact that I finally blew my top, but I also ask for a certain understanding at least for the reasons why this happened,” he said.

The attack and Mr Goecke’s tepid apology were widely criticised. Hanover’s mayor, Belit Onay, said attacks on press freedom should have “no place” in the city.

The head of the opera house, Laura Berman, said its contract with Mr Goecke would be dissolved with immediate effect by mutual agreement and that he would be permitted to access the premises for the time being.

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