Wagner Opera Scrapped for Depicting Nazi Atrocities on Stage

'Tannhauser' Production Cancelled Amid Dusseldorf Prtotest

Shock on Stage: A production of Richard Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ was cancelled after audiences protested its depiction of Nazi atrocities on stage.
getty images
Shock on Stage: A production of Richard Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ was cancelled after audiences protested its depiction of Nazi atrocities on stage.

By JTA

Published May 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A new production of Richard Wagner’s “Tannhauser” opera in Dusseldorf, which drew harsh criticism for staging Nazi atrocities, has been cancelled after less than a week.

At opening performances by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein company at the Dusseldorf Opera House over the weekend, the audience reacted negatively to scenes featuring the gassing of concentration camp prisoners, and the banned Hitler salute and swastika armband. In one scene, a mother, father and daughter are led up by members of the Wehrmacht; their clothes are removed and they are shaved, and shot.

Richard Wagner
getty images
Richard Wagner

The opera company had considered making changes to the staging, set in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust, but the opera company’s director Burkhard Kosminski refused to make any changes for artistic reasons, the BBC reported Thursday.

The production has been cancelled, though concert performances are still scheduled.

“After considering all the arguments, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot justify such an extreme impact of our artistic work,” said the Deutsche Oper am Rhein company said in a statement.The realistic scenes caused “psychological and physical stress” to some audience members, according to the statement.

The original “Tannhauser” was set in Germany in the Middle Ages, and was first performed in Dresden in 1845.

Many eschew Wagner’s music because of the admiration that Hitler held for Wagner as well as the composer’s alleged anti-Semitism.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.