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Artists from the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, MOB, refused to perform at the Cantarena festival in Beziers, France this past weekend.
When some 160 performers arrived at the festival after a grueling 45-hour bus ride, they were offered inappropriate accommodations in boarding schools, according to reports in the Macedonian media. One of the buses broke down en route, further complicating the trip.
“They welcomed us with inhuman conditions,” viola player Aleksandar Stojcevski said in an interview with A1 TV station. “According to what the general manager of MOB told us, it wasn’t what they agreed.”
The organizer of the festival, Jean Marc Malzac, told the French newspaper Midi Libre that he tried to make other arrangements for the performers, who refused every offer.
“We had planned a stay in the boarding schools, but they refused to sleep there,” he said. “We have moved heaven and earth to find housing in the coastal campsites. It was clearly not to their liking.”
According to Malzac, the Macedonian artists were scheduled to perform Carl Orff’s popular cantata Carmina Burana, but refused to take the stage, even though 1,000 spectators were seated for the performance.
“Obviously, we were collateral victims of fights inside of MOB in Skopje,” said Malzac.
If there is a third edition of the festival, he added, there will be no performers from Skopje.
Viktor Ilievski, president of the MOB union, told the daily newspaper Utrinski vesnik that the performers had warned company managers before departing Macedonia.
“We told them not to go on that kind of trip, because it is really hard to be in a bus that long,” he said. “But the executives had a strong desire to show the opera and ballet in a good way at this festival.”
Ilievski added that despite the union’s opposition to the trip, the opinion that younger artists could withstand the journey prevailed.
MOB General Manager Dejan Prosev told Dnevnik yesterday that everything will be explained at a press conference when the company returns to Skopje.
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