Royal Opera House to drop 'shrunken penis' poster

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The Independent Culture

The Royal Opera House has said it will stop using a promotional poster for a Verdi opera after an actor complained that it had been distorted in a demeaning way.

Juan Pablo Di Pace, 28, now a television and film actor, was cast in the crowd scenes of Verdi's Rigoletto in 2001. He posed for promotional shots at the time, and since then his naked image has been reused to advertise later productions of Rigoletto at Covent Garden, even though Di Pace has not been in them. He has complained that the image has been distorted, with his penis almost airbrushed out.

A friend said: "It's hugely embarrassing for a 28-year-old actor for them to plaster his naked body across billboards and buses... and doing to his image whatever they wish." The friend told The Independent's Pandora column that in one poster in 2005: "They airbrushed his penis entirely to shrink it. They made it look like he barely had one at all."

The ROH said it had received letters from Di Pace, who features in this year's Hollywood adaptation of Mamma Mia! It said it had manipulated the picture in a number of ways, including at one time adding a cape to cover his groin.

When Rigoletto is put on in 2009, the actor will not feature in any image publicising the production, it said. A spokesman for the actor said he was in Argentina and could not be contacted.

Last year the ROH was accused of "tacky" marketing, featuring the dancer Edward Watson in "sexed-up" posters. The campaign was criticised for lowering the status of the company.