The portly French actor was due to read 'L’Histoire du Soldat' (The Soldier’s Tale), a story based on a Russian folk tale by Swiss writer CF Ramuz, and set to music by Igor Stravinski.
But the orchestra in the central Swiss city decided to scrap the May 25th concert over worries that the political waves caused by Depardieu’s tax avoidance activities would overshadow the performance.
The film actor, one of the highest paid in France, recently took up official residence in Belgium and obtained Russian nationality to lower his income tax bill.
“We regret that the concert L’Histoire du Soldat with Gérard Depardieu on May 25th . . . has been cancelled,” the orchestra says on its website.
“Tickets will be fully refunded.”
Depardieu was originally to have appeared in the second part of a two-part evening of Russian music.
The decision to cancel the concert was jointly made by the orchestra and Depardieu’s imprésario, the ATS news service reported.
Both parties feared that the controversy provoked by the actor would relegate the concert and the artists to the background, Norman Ziswiler, orchestra spokesman, was quoted as saying by ATS.
Depardieu was criticized as “rather pathetic” by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault last December for his departure to Belgium, which sparked an angry response from the actor, who said he was handing back his French passport.
In January, after receiving Russian citizenship through an executive order signed by President Vladimir Putin, Depardieu came under fire for attacking Putin’s critics.