11 January 2005
ERFURT - The New Israeli Opera Tel Aviv will participate in the controversial staging of Beethoven's prison-based opera "Fidelio" at the site of Buchenwald concentration camp, German organisers of the production announced on Tuesday.
The 14-year-old opera company, under the general direction of Hanna Munitz, will provide musicians and singers for the production, scheduled for 2007 at the Nazi death camp site near Weimar in eastern Germany.
The controversial production is the brainchild of Giancarlo del Monaco, guest artistic director of the new Erfurt Opera House.
Del Monaco, 61, son of famed tenors Mario del Monaco, currently is embroiled in another controversy involving a production of German composer Engelbert Humperdinck's much-loved 1893 opera "Hansel And Gretel".
The Erfurt production, which premiere's next weekend, shifts the story from a fairy tale forest witch's cottage made of candy to a sinister metropolitan red-light district where children are abducted and held as sex slaves for paedophiles.
The sandman of the original libretto is transformed into a cocaine-sniffing procurer who hands over child abductees to the "witch" who, in del Monaco's production, is a seemingly respectable clergyman.
As he has with the "Fidelio" production, del Monaco has defended his "Hansel And Gretel" production, saying the original story by the Brothers Grimm was designed to make children wary of strangers promising them sweets.
"Underlying the libretto is a tacit comment on paedophilia, violence and sexual abuse of children," del Monaco said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"I am not attacking the church, but only attacking the church's continued denial that such things have gone on and continue to go on," he told dpa.
"Fidelio", Ludwig van Beethoven's only opera, is a story of political repression, unjust imprisonment and eventual dramatic liberation.
Subject: German news
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