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National Opera Council to discuss accusations against director

Estonia Theater, home of the national opera and ballet, in central Tallinn.
Estonia Theater, home of the national opera and ballet, in central Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The council of the Estonian National Opera (Rahvusooper) will convene for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the allegations of harassment made against the theater's director Aivar Mäe.

On Monday, Eesti Ekspress wrote (link in Estonian) it has spoken with around a dozen current and former women employees at the National Opera, who said Mäe had both made inappropriate or humiliating comments to women colleagues and touched them inappropriately, over a period starting around 2013, through to this year.

Tarvi Sits, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture and a member of the Council of the Estonian National Opera, told ERR he had sent a letter to the members of the Council proposing to hold an extraordinary meeting to find out the circumstances around the claims.

"These allegations are serious, they must be discussed," Sits said, adding he had not received allegations or complaints previously.

Arne Mikk, chairman of the council of the Estonian National Opera, told ERR on Monday morning he has not yet read the article and does not know the exact background of the cases. 

At the same time, Mikk said that the theater has its own traditions, such as hugging, and this can be interpreted in many ways.

"Aivar Mäe brings flowers to his female colleagues on Women's Day, this is the peculiarity of the theater. We all treat each other as a family," said Mikk.

Mikk confirmed he had never heard of such accusations before.

Helle-Moonika Helme, a member of the Supervisory Board, told ERR she would also be surprised by such accusations.

"The theater is full of drama, but I have certainly not heard of such accusations. But what I can say is that if such things have already come out of the walls of the house as a serious accusation and collectively, then probably we have to take it more seriously," Helme said, adding that such accusations are no joke.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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