Opera Singer Asked To Change 'Provocative' EU Flag Dress Following Complaint

The producer of a show at the Royal Albert Hall claimed the outfit could be misinterpreted.
Anna Patalong/PA

An opera singer was asked to change her EU flag themed dress during a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall following a complaint from a concert-goer.

Pro-EU opera singer Anna Patalong sang in the Classical Spectacular from Thursday through to Sunday, opting for a yellow and blue dress with a starry necklace for Saturday.

But the show’s producer Raymond Gubbay Ltd advised the soprano to wear a different outfit for Sunday’s performance due to the outfit’s “misinterpretation”.

Ahead of the concert on Saturday, the 34-year-old had attended the Put it to the People march in central London, which drew a reported one million people who demanded a final say on Brexit.

Her husband Benedict Nelson took to social media following the concert, claiming she had been required to change her dress “as the colours were too provocative”.

Nelson, a fellow opera singer, told the Press Association: “She decided to wear some colours in her dress on Saturday night as a nod towards the EU.

“It wasn’t like she was rejecting the UK or trying to make a political statement”

- Benedict Nelson, Patalong's husband

“She also wore a Union Jack during the concert for some of the more traditional, patriotic bits of music. It wasn’t like she was rejecting the UK or trying to make a political statement.

“No-one at the concert on Saturday, I think, really noticed, although there was a complaint from someone who must have been sat pretty close in order to be able to see it.”

Raymond Gubbay tweeted a statement on Tuesday, writing: “As with all our performances the show does not seek to make any political statement and is simply a celebration of great classical music.

“It was suggested to the soprano that she revert to the dress worn on Thursday and Friday as there was no desire as to any possible misinterpretation of the show trying to take any stance other than delivering great music and great spectacle to the audience.”


Nelson said the dress, which featured stars on the back, would have been unnoticeable from a distance.

“I think it’s pretty subtle, it looks more like IKEA as someone pointed out, or Beauty and the Beast,” he said.

“It should be uncontroversial to wear whatever she likes, it wasn’t like it said ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ or anything like that.

“That would have been over the top but it wasn’t, it was a small homage to the EU. No-one should be told how they should dress in order to protect other people’s sensibility.”

He added that neither he or his wife blamed the production company for the situation.

“She certainly didn’t have any argument with them or any confrontation, and I was careful not to mention them in my tweet, because I think they were just in a difficult position and they dealt with it as best as they could,” he said.

“They politely asked Anna to change it and Anna said that yes, it was fine.”


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