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A child singer performing in the Royal Opera House production of Alcina was ‘booed’ and branded “rubbish” by an audience member on Tuesday night, in scenes which have been described as “disgraceful” by others in attendance.

Malakai M Bayoh, a student at The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in west London, debuted in the role of Oberta in the opera from acclaimed composer George Frideric Handel.

Josh Spero, associate arts editor at the Financial Times, tweeted: “The nastiest thing happened @RoyalOperaHouse tonight during Alcina: a ~12yo boy was sweetly singing his lines when a man in the audience yelled ‘rubbish’ and booed him. Who would do that to a child?

“Once the boy was done, the audience responded with wild applause and cheering.”

Amy Gray, who also attended the performance in Covent Garden, added: “This was appalling. The only child in the cast and some boor in the audience objected.

“Thankfully the rest of the audience made their support very clear.”

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Meanwhile, freelance writer Lillian Crawford described it as “one of the most sickening things I’ve ever seen”.

“Never clapped and cheered so loudly in my life when he finished singing. Some people are absolutely abhorrent,” she said.

Others have also expressed their shock at the news and the audience member’s actions:

A video of Bayoh’s bow at the end of the show was shared by the music department at Cardinal Vaughan, in which loud cheers and applause can be heard:

Quite right, too.

In a statement issued on Twitter, The Royal Opera House said: “Unfortunately, the opening night of Alcina featured an audience member who disrupted the show and the excellent performance by young singer Malakai M Bayoh.

“We are appalled that a member of the audience behaved in this way and steps have been taken to ensure the audience member in question does not return to the Royal Opera House.”

Keep on smashing it, Malakai.

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