Monday, May 13, 2013

Wagner Opera Censored for "Public Health"

Venus and Tannhäuser in a romantic clinch which sickened Düsseldorf opera-goers.

The Deutsche Oper am Rhein's controversial Nazi-era production of Tannhäuser was cancelled after its premiere in Düsseldorf on 4th May.

It has now been reduced to a concert performance.

In the director's staging, Venus, as an SS guard, first strips, shaves, then shoots a Jewish family of three, forcing Tannhäuser to join in the killing. In another scene, a glass crucifix containing naked victims is lowered as gas engulfs their writhing bodies, a graphic simulation of Nazi gas chambers.

The audience reacted with booing, walkouts and worse.

In the words of the Rheinoper's press office, the performance affected many in the public:
... both psychologically and physically with such evident stress that they had to seek medical treatment.
 (...sowohl psychisch als auch physisch zu einer offenbar so starken Belastung geführt haben, dass diese Besucher sich im Anschluss in ärztliche Behandlung begeben mussten.)

The Rheinoper press officer remarks:
After weighing up all the arguments we have concluded that we cannot justify such an extreme reaction to our artistic work.
 (Nach Abwägen aller Argumente sind wir zu dem Schluss gekommen, dass wir eine solch extreme Wirkung unserer künstlerischen Arbeit nicht verantworten können.)

The director, Burkhard Kosminski, said he was "shocked and speechless" at the decision to censor his staging of Wagner's masterpiece.

The Rheinoper's artistic director, Christoph Meyer, countered with reference to the responsibility to protect public health, adding: "In light of this responsibility, the opera management reject any accusation of censorship."

What a ninny Meyer is. Of course it is censorship. Censorship is always imposed in the interests of protecting some form of "public health" - and this kerfuffle in the 'Dorf is a text-book example of it in action.

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