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No Sparks, Again, at Controversial Opera

No Sparks, Again, at Controversial Opera

The second re-staging of a Mozart opera dropped due to security fears over a scene with the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad took place Friday without disruption in a Berlin theater with several hundred empty seats.
The performance of "Idomeneo" drew a peaceful protest from about 20 Muslims, who stood outside the Deutsche Oper praying and holding a green Islamic banner with what they said was a Muslim confession of faith in Arabic.
"Islam is for freedom, but we are against this insult," said Yusuf Oezgoez, a Berlin resident born in Istanbul, Turkey.
There were no disturbances or threats, police said. Germany's Muslim community has generally kept a low profile over the controversy, and while several Muslim leaders have criticized the production there have not been widespread protests.
The opera says it hasn't decided whether to stage the production again and no further performances are scheduled.
The opera canceled four November performances due to vague fears about a scene with the severed heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and the pagan sea god Poseidon. The scene was the addition of director Hans Neuenfels to the 225-year old work, expressing his opposition to organized religion.
The opera then brought back the production after widespread criticism that it was not defending artistic freedom. Spectators Friday greeted the heads scene with applause; one woman laughed.
Attendance was well below that for the first re-staging on Dec. 18, which took place with TV crews crowding the lobby and Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, in attendance.
There were 1,355 tickets sold in the 1,863-seat opera house, compared to a near-sellout for the first re-staging.
As with the first re-staging, operagoers passed through metal detectors.
"There have been absolutely no threats, nothing," Berlin police spokesman Marcel Kuhlmey said.


Updated : 2021-07-31 12:03 GMT+08:00