Berlin Mozart opera purists vs. director. Severed heads missing

This music video is called MOZART – IDOMENEO 1781 with double subtitless Italian-English.

AFP reports:

Berlin opera’s heads of Mohammed, Jesus go missing

December 8, 2006

BERLIN — Severed heads of the Prophet Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus, and Poseidon that were to have been used in a hotly disputed staging of a Mozart opera in Berlin this month have vanished, the opera house said Friday.

“It seems the four heads are gone,” Deutsche Oper spokesman Alexander Busche said. “We do not know when they disappeared or who is responsible.”

He said that new props would have to be made before a scheduled performance of Idomeneo December 18.

Director Hans Neuenfels‘ staging features a bloody climax in which King Idomeneo places the severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed on four chairs.

The production angered some members of the audience when it premiered in December 2003.

In September the opera was removed from the autumn schedule for fear of violent protests by Muslims over the desecration of the image of Mohammed in light of the uproar earlier this year over caricatures of the Prophet printed in European newspapers.

The decision sparked a heated debate in Germany in which the general manager of the opera house, Kirsten Harms, was widely accused of kowtowing before extremists and censoring artistic expression.

She argued that Berlin authorities had warned her of a potential security risk by putting on the controversial staging.

Last month Neuenfels said that he had received threatening letters demanding that he modify the final scene of the opera.

He noted that the missives were not driven by political or religious concerns but rather came from “opera purists” who disliked the radical overhaul of Idomeneo.

So, all over the world, this issue was exploited by paranoiacs (including Tony Blair) who are hallicunating about ‘evil’ Muslims supposedly under every bed.

It was already clear that this was not about Muslims themselves, but about German authorities’ perceptions of Muslims.

Now, it turns out that the threatening letters were by “opera purists”, not Muslims.

Though one should oppose this kind of letters, whoever writes them, “opera purists” seem to have a sort of point here.

The opera Idomeneo is about Idomeneus, king in Crete who supposedly lived about 1200 BCA.

Of the four “severed heads”, only one was ‘alive’ then: Poseidon … well, at least ancient Greek believers thought he was the god of the sea; and poets mentioned him with Idomeneus.

In spite of all controversies on the biographies of Mohammed, Buddha, and Jesus, no one, also certainly not Mozart, claims they were alive that long ago.

Associated Press reports:

He [the opera spokesman, Busche] said the costume director recalled seeing them [the heads] recently and that they had probably been misplaced somewhere in the opera’s sprawling storerooms and workshops.

He said he doubted they were stolen.

Big Mozart Internet site: here.

The lost genius of Mozart’s sister. Nannerl Mozart was a child prodigy like her brother Wolfgang Amadeus, but her musical career came to an end when she was 18. A one-woman play puts her back on the stage, where she belongs: here.

History of string instruments: here.

Another case in Germany of supposed Muslim reactions to art, sculpture in this case, as perceived by non Muslims, rather than from Muslims themselves: here.

Mozart’s Don Giovanni: here.

“Virtuosic.” “A prodigy.” “Genius.” These words were written in the 1760s about Mozart—Maria Anna Mozart. When she toured Europe as a pianist, young Maria Anna wowed audiences in Munich, Vienna, Paris, London, the Hague, Germany and Switzerland. “My little girl plays the most difficult works which we have … with incredible precision and so excellently,” her father, Leopold, wrote in a letter in 1764. “What it all amounts to is this, that my little girl, although she is only 12 years old, is one of the most skillful players in Europe”: here.

Lock of Mozart’s hair set to fetch £12,000 at auction. Keepsake stored in a gold locket is among Mozart and Beethoven memorabilia to be sold by Sotheby’s this week: here.

7 thoughts on “Berlin Mozart opera purists vs. director. Severed heads missing

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