10 May 2013

Wagner opera withdrawn over Nazi theme

7:41 am on 10 May 2013

A Wagner opera in Germany that was staged with a Nazi theme with scenes of murder and a gas chamber, has been withdrawn.

Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duesseldorf said that the production of Tannhaeuser would be held in a concert version only for the rest of its run.

Director Burkhard C. Kosminski's interpretation is set during the Holocaust. It opened on Saturday.

''Some scenes, especially the very realistic shooting scene, caused numerous guests such psychological and physical stress that they had to get medical treatment afterwards," Deutsche Oper am Rhein said.

"After considering all of the arguments, we have concluded that we cannot take responsibility for our artistic work having such an extreme effect so we cannot allow this production to continue being performed without any changes."

The opera house said while it had discussed the possibility of changing some scenes with Kosminski, he had refused to allow this for artistic reasons.

Wagner is a controversial figure in Germany given his virulent anti-Semitism and the fact that he was Adolf Hitler's favourite composer. 2013 is the bicentenary year of his birth.

Last year, a Russian opera singer pulled out of the opera festival at Bayreuth, which was founded by Wagner, over tattoos on his chest, one of which resembled the Nazi swastika.