Nazi-themed Wagner opera cancelled in Germany after audience treated for shock
by Jeevan Vasagar (via The Telegraph) – The Deutsche Oper am Rhein, a leading German opera house that performs in Düsseldorf, said it could not justify artistic work with such an “extreme impact”.
The opera house said it had asked director Burkhard Kosminski to tone down scenes but he had refused. From Thursday onwards, the opera will be performed solely as a piece of music, without the staging, the opera house said.
At the opening of the Düsseldorf performance, performers could be seen inside glass chambers, falling to the floor as white fog flowed. The performance showed a family having their heads shaved and then being shot.
Other scenes showed suicide and rape, according to German magazine Der Spiegel. The production was booed by audiences at Saturday’s premiere, press reports said. The opera is set in the Middle Ages and features a singing contest at a German castle.
Michael Szentei-Heise, head of the Jewish community in Düsseldorf, told the Associated Press the production was “tasteless and not legitimate”. He said: “This opera has nothing to do with the Holocaust. However, I think the audience has made this very clear to the opera and the producer.”
The statement read: “We are responding to the fact that some scenes, especially the shooting scene depicted very realistically, have caused such physical and psychological stress that some audience members have had to receive medical treatment.
“After considering all the arguments we have come to the conclusion that we cannot justify our artistic work having such an extreme impact.
“In intensive discussions with the director Burkhard C. Kosminski we have considered the possibility of changing individual scenes. This he refuses to do for artistic reasons. Of course, we have to respect the director’s artistic freedom.”
Richard Wagner, who died in 1883, is associated with Nazism because he was one of Hitler’s favourite composers. He is also regarded as an anti-Semite, and while some of his works have been broadcast and performed in Israel, his operas have never been staged there.