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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Deutsche Opera Berlin: Off! On Again?

German Opera Canceled For Fear of Offending Muslims:

    Germany's interior minister condemned a leading opera house's decision to cancel a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" out of concern a scene featuring the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad could provoke a dangerous reaction from Muslims.

    After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over a scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha.

Chancellor Angela Merkel makes effort to preserve the performance:

    Germany's conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday led political and arts world uproar at the scrapping of a Mozart opera that features the head of the prophet Mohammed rolling across the stage.

    The performances were cancelled amid fears the scene could trigger violence among the nation's Muslim community.

    But Mrs Merkel denounced "self-censorship out of fear" as unacceptable, reflecting a mood of national indignation that was not limited to the arts set but cut right across all social lines.

    And last night there were hopes that increased government pressure might get the show put back on.
Beware, Beware the ever-so Slippery Slope To Censorship:

    ...above and beyond the acknowledgement that it is regrettable to insult anyone's religion, many questions come to mind in this instance: Will Muslims' feelings really be hurt? What about Christians? Buddhists? And what about people who believe in Greek mythology?

    [...director Hans Neuenfels shows] his relations to the role of religion and gods in a scene where the decapitated heads of Jesus, Buddah [sic] , Mohammed and Poseidon are set on chairs.

    The scene is generally critical of religion, yet not in any way exclusively critical of, or hostile to, Islam. In other words, there is not the slightest reason to resort to self-censure of this nature, removing the opera from the season's program in a rush of overly hasty obedience. Anyone who chooses to make such a decision clearly has a disturbed relationship to art and the freedom of speech" ‚– the elixirs of an enlightened society. In fact, whoever shakes these foundations is encouraging radicals of all stripes to challenge democracy.

Will the curtain rise or fall on this particular performance? Stay tuned.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hello Josh - quick question - are you connected to the atlantic review? (you're not mike malloy commenting here using a "handle", are you?)

you make some good points. It's possible the theater canceled the opera for the publicity, knowing they'd get more attention from cancelling it and then putting the opera back on, although the German opera committee behind the presentation doesn't seem to have any past history of seeking the press or creating a situation for the press to cover it. Do you have info that proves otherwise?

I agree with you that Muslims are not the only religious group that dislikes controversial art. But certainly they are the only ones to react to cartoons (the Danish cartoons) by torching embassies and protesting with signs reading "behead those who insult Islam".

And I agree with the Muslims, and the Catholics and the Jews and the Christians and any other religious group who want to PEACEFULLY PROTEST a work of controversial art. The difference is the Muslims who do not protest peacefully because they cannot take criticism. No religion has been more insulted by controversial art more than the Judeo-Christian religions. And last I remember, no Christians or Jews were threatening violence in retaliation for a controversial work of art.

Thanks for visiting and commenting Josh in Berlin, if you really are josh and in berlin. ;-)
JOSH FROM BERLIN (even tho you are neither)

your rambling comment is gone for good.

you're a poser and a troll.

hope you enjoyed it for the few moments it lasted.
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