Black child actor heckled and booed during performance of Alcina at Royal Opera House


A black child performer was heckled during the Royal Opera House production of Alcine.

The central London venue is currently showing Handel’s opera until November 26. On Tuesday, November 8, young actor Malakai M Bayoh made his debut as Oberto.

Shortly after the evening’s performance, audience members shared on social media that there was a disturbance during Bayoh’s solo from someone in the crowd.

“Despicable behavior by a member of the public at Alcine at the Royal Opera House,” a tweet begins. “He booed and heckled the young boy while singing (in a beautiful way) Oberto. Thankfully, the rest of the audience drowned out the heckler with extra loud, heartfelt applause. But, seriously, who boos a child?!”

Others added messages of support for Bayoh and condemned the audience member for his reaction.

“He should be banned for life. Mocking while singing can cause almost irreparable psychological trauma that plays on a loop,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Another opera fan added: “I sincerely hope you banish this horrible person from the building. Call out a child who put [himself] in such an intimidating and vulnerable position is despicable. I hope Malakai’s minds aren’t dampened by this cowardly villain.

Others have suggested that Bayoh being a black opera performer might have contributed to the heckler’s bad behavior. One person wrote: “Individual fanatics have now been encouraged to spit this out without repercussion. How can a grown man be so disgusted by a black child to want to affect him psychologically on stage.

In a statement shared with The Independenta spokesperson for the Royal Opera House shared the company’s appreciation for Bayoh’s work as well as their “appalled” reaction to the audience member.

“We would like to congratulate Malakai M Bayoh for his outstanding performance as Oberto on our first night of Alcine“, we read in the message.Malakai is surprisingly talented – bringing great acting and beautiful singing to the role – a huge accomplishment for such a young singer.

“Unfortunately, Alcina’s opening night featured an audience member who disrupted the show and Malakai’s excellent performance. We are appalled that an audience member behaved in this way and our support goes to Malakai and Alcina’s cast and creative team.

The statement concluded by stating that they had “taken steps” to ensure that the offending audience member will not be allowed to return for future shows.


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