Upbeat: Coda

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BASHFUL visitors to the box office for the Semaines Musicales festival at Quimper in south-western Brittany have been receiving more than they bargained for, writes Andrew Green. Along with tickets for this year's Baroque- centred events, concertgoers have been dished out with what appear at first sight to be fold- over matchstick containers that proudly display the festival's distinctive multi-coloured logo on the front. Closer inspection, however, reveals the freebie to be a neatly packaged condom, complete with five explicit line drawings on how to use it.

The explanation rests with the fact that the festival president and artistic director, Raymond Derrien, is a medical doctor by profession. 'I think a public event of this kind is exactly the right context to bring home to people the threat posed by Aids,' he says. At the festival press conference the container design was displayed in a frame carrying the message 'In case of emergency, break the glass.'

Ecclesiastical sensitivities in a Roman Catholic country have none the less had to be borne in mind, especially with Papal strictures on contraception. 'Several of our venues are churches,' says Derrien, 'so we decided we should restrict the distribution of the contraceptives just to the box office.'