Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Did Poseidon Gain His Revenge For German Opera Director Hans Neuenfels Imposition Of An Added Scene Of Secularism On Mozart's Idomeneo?

..."The disputed scene is not part of Mozart’s opera, but was added by the director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, and Poseidon on to the stage, placing each on a stool.

“Idomeneo,” first performed in 1781, tells a mythical story of Poseidon, or Neptune, the god of the sea, who toys with men’s lives and demands spiteful sacrifice. ...

The scene with the severed heads aroused controversy among Muslims and Christians when the Deutsche Oper first staged it. But the company was not the target of any organized protests, and the Deutsche Oper put four performances on its calendar for this November....

The scene devised by Mr. Neuenfels puts a sanguinary ending on an opera that, in the way Mozart wrote it, ends with King Idomeneo giving up his throne to appease the god of the sea, and blessing the romantic union of his son Idamante with the Greek princess Ilia.

The severed heads of the religious figures, Mr. Raue said, was meant by Mr. Neuenfels to make a point that “all the founders of religions were figures that didn’t bring peace to the world.”

André Kraft, spokesman for Komische Oper, a more adventurous opera house where Mr. Neuenfels is engaged in another Mozart production, described the 65-year-old director as “a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world.”" ...

Judy Dempsey and Mark Landler "Opera Canceled Over a Depiction of Muhammad" New York Times September 27, 2006

[Click to enlarge.]

Buddha, Muhammad, Poseidon (Neptune), and Jesus Christ before their decapitations.

Could this production have been safely performed in American opera houses?

Does toleration between religions and civilizations -- as well as of religion itself--belong in Western and World opera houses?

Photo credit: (c) Claudia Esch-Kenkel/European Pressphoto Agency, 2003 via New York Times. With thanks.


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