German Opera House Cancels Wagner Performance Because of Graphic Nazi Scenes
A controversial production of a Wagner opera at a major German opera house has been cancelled because of graphic scenes involving Nazis.
The Rheinoper, based in Dusseldorf, said some of the audience had to seek medical help following early performances of Tannhauser.
But the producer “refused” to tone down the staging, set in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
However, the venue made an about-face and only concert performances are now planned.
“After considering all the arguments, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot justify such an extreme impact of our artistic work,” said a statement from Deutsche Oper am Rhein.
“With paramount concern, we note that some scenes (especially the shooting scene) were depicted very realistically,” the statement continued, causing “psychological and physical stress” to some audience members.
Despite “intensive conversation” with German theatre director and actor Burkhard C Kosminski about possible changes to the production, “he refused to do this for artistic reasons,” according to the statement.
“Of course, we have to respect – and also for legal reasons – the artistic freedom of the director,” the opera house said.
Management at the Rheinoper said they were aware that the “concept and implementation” of the Kosminski’s production would be “controversial.”
Head of Dusseldorf’s Jewish community Michael Szentei-Heise told the Associated Press: “Members of the audience booed and banged the doors when they left the opera house in protest.”
He called the adaptation “tasteless and not legitimate.”
Wagner has often been at the center of controversy. The rabid anti-Semite was a favorite of Hitler and wrote anti-Semitic tracts in his later years.