London opera company bans 'darling' as term of address

April 23, 2004

LONDON — The English National Opera has banned its employees from addressing each other as "darling", ending a long-running tradition at the 100-year-old institution just off Trafalgar Square.

The edict came in a re-education document enforcing government guidelines on sexual discrimination at work, The Times reported Thursday.

"The use of affectionate names such as 'darling' will also constitute sexual harassment," the ENO document says.

It bans "suggestive remarks or lewd conduct that denigrates or ridicules or is intimidatory or physically abusive of an employee because of their sex".

A spokesman told The Times the rule would apply primarily to new staff, but that "existing staff who call each other 'darling' can continue to do so".

The term is common among London's large thespian community and is used almost indiscriminately among men and women, although when used between men it often has a gay connotation.

The ENO opened in 1904 in a bombastic Edwardian building called the Coliseum, which reopened this year following lavish refurbishment.

The company is dedicated to staging operas in English translation, as opposed to the nearby Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, which presents operas in their original language. – Sapa-dpa

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