A Dusseldorf opera company has been forced to cancel its production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser after audiences reacted with booing because of the violent depiction of a Nazi concentration camp. Reaction was so extreme that some members of the audience reportedly sought medical attention after watching execution scenes. The trend with operas and Shakespearean plays these days is to lose the tights and try to make the work’s “relevant” by staging them in modern settings with modern costuming. But director Burkhard C. Kosminski set what has to be a new record for pushing the creative envelope, in staging a story essentially about a lusty singing competition participant , a kind of 19th century Voice contestant, in Nazi Germany. Not to mention staging the play in Germany of all places where people are still, understandably sensitive about their troubled totalitarian past. Producers toyed with the idea of staging a new version stripped of all contemporary references and staging, but in the end it was decided to abandon the project. Composer Wagner is a controversial figure in Germany and elsewhere because of his strong anti-semetic beliefs, and his glorification by the Third Reich. A complete report is here.
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