NEW YORK Pop star Madonna on Monday downplayed media reports of boos and calls for refunds from the audience of her recent concert at Paris' famed Olympia theatre, saying they were caused by "a few thugs" in the audience.
"Unfortunately at the end of the show - after I left the stage - a few thugs who were not my fans rushed the stage and started throwing plastic bottles pretending to be angry fans," Madonna said on her website.
Tickets for the surprise show held last Thursday - a last-minute addition to Madonna's "MDNA" tour - had been offered first to members of her fan club and sold out within minutes. Some people began gathering outside the Olympia as early as Wednesday for the show, and anticipation was running high.
The show, which included both classics and songs from her latest album "MDNA," cost ticket holders 80 euros ($98) to start.
After it ended, some in the audience voiced disappointment at the show's length, a mere 45 minutes. A few booed and others called for refunds as they left the 2,700-seat theatre, Paris' oldest surviving music hall which has welcomed iconic stars from Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel to the Rolling Stones.
"The press reports have focused on this and not the joyous aspect of the evening," Madonna said in the statement. "But nothing can take away or ruin this very special evening for me and my fans. When I looked out in the audience, everyone I saw had a smile on their face. I look forward to having this wonderful experience again."
It's not the first time her current tour in France has attracted controversy.
At the 80,000-seat Stade de France on July 14, she angered France's far right party leader Marine Le Pen by showing a picture of her with a swastika superimposed on her face.
This past Thursday, Madonna made a only a glancing reference to Le Pen and her political party's anti-immigration stance, and paid homage to a French past that, Madonna said, "opened its arms to minorities."
(Reporting By Christine Kearney; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Marguerita Choy)