Russian court throws out case of 'blasphemous' Wagner opera

10th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

A Russian judge on Tuesday threw out a case against two men accused of desecrating the image of Jesus Christ with their staging of a Richard Wagner opera.

The director of the controversial "Tannhauser" production and the head of the Siberian city of Novosibirsk's State Opera and Ballet Theatre, where it was staged, went on trial last week.

The judge who dismissed the case said no crime had been committed.

Russia opened the controversial case after a senior Orthodox cleric wrote to prosecutors saying that he had received complaints from believers offended by the production, although he himself had not seen it.

The case had been compared by some to that of the Pussy Riot punk rockers who were jailed for two years for a performance protesting against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church.

Theatre stars spoke out in support of the production, which premiered in December, warning against a return to harsh Stalin-era censorship of the arts.

The original opera follows the hero Tannhauser as he dallies with love goddess Venus before finding redemption through the Catholic Church.

The Novosibirsk version shifted the story to the present day, with Tannhauser a movie director making a film about Jesus visiting Venus's erotic grotto, sparking protests from members of the powerful Orthodox church.

© 2015 AFP

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