The decision comes just before a two-year sponsorship deal with government health promotion agency, Healthway, which is set to begin in March next year.

This partnership is worth A$400,000 (£220,000).

However, Healthway insists it did not make the request to drop Carmen, and that the opera company made the decision to support its anti-smoking message.

Carolyn Chard, general manager of West Australia Opera, told newspaper The West Australian: “We care about the health and wellbeing of our staff, stage performers and all the opera lovers throughout WA, which means promoting health messages and not portraying any activities that could be seen to promote unhealthy behavior.”

Opera fans have raised concerns over arts censorship, while Prime Minister Tony Abbott has openly condemned the decision, calling it: “Political correctness gone crazy.”

He said: “We don’t stop the theatre from running ‘Macbeth’ because it promotes killing kings.”

George Bizet’s iconic opera is set in and around a cigarette factory and features smoking in many scenes, as well as in the lyrics of the songs – albeit in French.

It would be difficult to remove smoking from the show; so instead, the opera company has said it plans to run it for the 2017 season, when the sponsorship deal has expired.

The show premiered in 1875 in Paris, so it’s safe to say that Mr Bizet himself just couldn’t have seen this coming.