Marin Alsop, the female conductor namechecked by Cate Blanchett in her latest film “Tár,” has slammed the project, saying it offended her “as a woman… as a conductor…as a lesbian.”
Blanchett is already being tipped for an Oscar for her performance as Lydia Tár, a lesbian conductor who is accused of being abusive towards young women.
A number of viewers, including New York Times writer Zachary Woolfe, have spotted parallels between Alsop and Tár, such as the fact that both are Leonard Bernstein protegees, both are lesbians, both are married to orchestral musicians (with whom they have children) and both were, until recently, the only women to lead a big orchestra (Alsop at Baltimore, Tár at the Berlin Philharmonic.)
And in the film’s first act, in a scene in which Tár is being interviewed by real-life New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, she even namechecks Alsop, saying: “As to the question of gender bias, I have nothing to complain about. Nor, for that matter, should Nathalie Stutzmann, Laurence Equilbey, Marin Alsop, or JoAnn Falletta. There were so many incredible women who came before us, women who did the real lifting.”
One major difference between the two conductors, however, is that in the fictional film Tár is accused of sexual misconduct, a plot twist that Alsop has now called “offensive.”
“I first read about it in late August and I was shocked that that was the first I was hearing of it,” Alsop said of the film in an interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times newspaper. “So many superficial aspects of ‘Tár’ seemed to align with my own personal life. But once I saw it I was no longer concerned, I was offended: I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian.”
“To have an opportunity to portray a woman in that role and to make her an abuser — for me that was heartbreaking,” she continued. “I think all women and all feminists should be bothered by that kind of depiction because it’s not really about women conductors, is it? It’s about women as leaders in our society. People ask, ‘Can we trust them? Can they function in that role?’ It’s the same questions whether it’s about a CEO or an NBA coach or the head of a police department.”
“There are so many men — actual, documented men — this film could have been based on but, instead, it puts a woman in the role but gives her all the attributes of those men. That feels antiwoman. To assume that women will either behave identically to men or become hysterical, crazy, insane is to perpetuate something we’ve already seen on film so many times before.”
“Tár,” which was written and directed by Todd Field, premiered at Venice last year where it got a rave response. Martin Scorsese has also said he is a fan of the film.
Alsop herself has been the subject of a feature documentary, Bernadette Wegenstein’s “The Conductor,” which was released in 2021.