‘You don’t treat Sydney like that’: Fury at star's fire call
The furious organiser of one of Australia's largest festivals has hit out at an international film star who cancelled a performance in Sydney due to her concerns about bushfire smoke.
French actor Isabelle Adjani was due to perform at the Sydney Opera House from January 21 but pulled out on Monday forcing the cancellation of one of the flagship shows of the annual Sydney Festival.
Adjani, 64, had offered to reschedule the show for a time when the skies are clearer, but festival director Wesley Enoch has said she won't be welcomed back.
"You don't treat Sydney like that," he said.
Just this week US superstar Lizzo has played to packed out audiences at the Opera House seemingly with little concern over the bushfires raging down the coast.
The French actor, nominated for an Oscar, had been due to star in Opening Night, a stage version of the 1977 cult movie classic.
Adjani's agent said Sydney's bushfire-affected air quality was "detrimental" and could "endanger her health".
According to the NSW Government's Air Quality Index Sydney did have "hazardous" air quality for a spell late last year as well as today as smoke wafted over the city.
However, in recent weeks, the air quality had reverted to "very good" levels.
The play was to take place indoors in an airconditioned theatre.
The actor's spokesman said in a letter that while Adjani stood with Australia in its "hour of need", actually standing on a stage in Australia would be a risk to her "both legally and humanely" due to "respiratory weakness".
The "terrible conditions" in Australia could "endanger her health" the letter said.
However, Mr Enoch questioned why the cancellation had occurred at all given air quality had largely improved.
But he said there was little he could do to make the show go on.
"What am I going to do? Force them onto a plane?" he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
He rejected Adjani's proposal to hold the performance at a later date.
"I'm not here to be punitive (but) this is one of those situations where I go 'no, I don't think Sydney deserves to be treated like this'. You don't treat Sydney like this."
In an earlier statement, Mr Enoch said the Festival was "disappointed" by the no-show.
"We have been in constant communication with all international and Australian-based companies in relation to any concerns arising from the current fire situation in New South Wales and we have been buoyed by their responses.
"Overwhelmingly, individual artists and companies - both local and from overseas - have responded by asking how they can help or what they can do to support relief efforts once they are on the ground in Sydney for the festival.
"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and assurances, the Opening Night team has chosen not to come."
Adjani isn't the only artist to cancel a show due to fears related to the fires.
Iconic Aussie rock band Cold Chisel cancelled a large outdoor concert scheduled to take place yesterday due to "unsafe environmental conditions and hazardous air quality".
The Jimmy Barnes-led band were set to headline A Day on The Green concert in Rutherglen, west of Wodonga.
Birds of Tokyo and Magic Dirt were also on the bill for the gig, which was cancelled just hours before it was due to start.
A press release from Roundhouse Entertainment promoter Michael Newton blamed the, "devastating bushfires and extreme weather conditions currently being experienced in Albury, Wodonga and surrounding areas".
The statement noted that Victoria's Environmental Protection Authority had rated the air quality in the area as "hazardous" with wind conditions throughout the day expected to further worsen air quality.
The Sydney Festival runs from 8 - 26 January.