Wagner Opera Scrapped for Depicting Nazi Atrocities on Stage

Image: getty images

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.

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.

Written by


Your Comments

The 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 Forward requires 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 and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. 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 Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Wagner Opera Scrapped for Depicting Nazi Atrocities on Stage

Thank you!

This article has been sent!