German intellectuals angry after opera called off

26th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 September 2006, BERLIN - German artists and politicians reacted with fury and scorn Tuesday to the decision of Berlin's biggest opera house to cancel a Mozart production that might offend Muslims. But the artistic director of the opera company, Kirsten Harms, defended her decision, telling reporters she had acted on police advice and to protect her staff from possible physical attack. "If anything happened, people would say afterwards I had ignored the warnings," she said. The words of the opera, Idomen

26 September 2006

BERLIN - German artists and politicians reacted with fury and scorn Tuesday to the decision of Berlin's biggest opera house to cancel a Mozart production that might offend Muslims.

But the artistic director of the opera company, Kirsten Harms, defended her decision, telling reporters she had acted on police advice and to protect her staff from possible physical attack.

"If anything happened, people would say afterwards I had ignored the warnings," she said.

The words of the opera, Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, make no reference to Islam, but director Hans Neuenfels introduced a scene to his production that depicts the decapitated heads of the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, the Buddha and the Greek god Poseidon.

At the premiere in 2003, reviewers said the losing scene, in which King Idomeneo sets the four bloody heads on a row of chairs and laughs, was an attack on all religions. The opera house had planned to revive the show for four performances this November.

The Social Democratic mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, said Harms had made the wrong decision because there was no concrete threat.

"Voluntary self-limitation encourages those who are hostile to our values," he said.

Christoph Schlingensief, a provocative German theatrical director who shocked audiences this month by depicting Britain's Queen Elizbeth II as a Nazi dwarf, demanded that the opera go ahead.

Klaus Staeck, president of the Berlin Academy of the Arts, said, "We must not restrict our own freedom of expression, our artistic freedom."

The chairman of a secular Turkish association, Kenan Kolat, also criticised the cancellation, saying, "It's a pity they are scared of public discussion." But Ali Kizilkaya, chairman of a mosque group, the Council of Islam, said the opera would offend Muslim feelings.

DOA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article