William Reber, professor of music and artistic director of Lyric Opera Theater, stepped down Wednesday because of a music festival performance of “Rent,” according to a statement released by Heather Landes, the interim director of the ASU School of Music. He will remain on staff as a professor of music in the ASU School of Music.
“Earlier this month, an internal communication breakdown led to the performance of a scene from ‘Rent’ that included age-inappropriate material during the Arizona All-State High School Music Festival,” the statement read.
Reber replied to the news of the resignation as director of Lyric Opera Theater in an email, emphasizing that “… one result of the April 11 performance was my resignation as Director of Lyric Opera Theater, a choice I made, not a decision that was forced on me in any way. No one has been removed from the production, nor should anyone be.”
“The company of ‘Rent’ has no responsibility for what happened on April 11. Their job is to present this important work to the best of their combined abilities, a job they are doing superbly,” he said.
Meanwhile, a change.org petition started by ASU alumnus Evan Tyler Wilson with over 2,000 signatures calls for Reber to keep his position.
The controversial performance of “La Vie Boheme” was shown to high school students, and many walked out during the performance. The scene was not accompanied by any type of disclaimer that it would be for mature audiences and contained explicit content.
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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect William Reber’s comments and his role in the ASU School of Music.