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Company reconsiders staging Mozart opera

Amid pressure, German Opera says it may put on `Idomeneo' if there's a new security plan.

September 29, 2006|Madeline Chambers | Reuters

BERLIN — A Berlin opera house condemned for canceling performances of a Mozart work over concerns that it could provoke violence by Muslims said Thursday it might consider staging the production if it had security assurances.

"If there was a new security plan, we could consider it," Alexander Busche, a spokesman for the German Opera, said when asked about reinstating "Idomeneo," which includes a scene with the severed heads of the prophet Muhammad, Buddha and Jesus.

Although the opera house had agreed on its program until mid-June, there were some free days which could be used, he said.

A row erupted after German Opera said Monday that it had pulled four performances of the Mozart work in November.

Director Kirsten Harms said the police had warned her of an "incalculable" security risk if she went ahead. Police have since said they received an anonymous phone call with an abstract warning rather than a specific threat.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday October 10, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
'Idomeneo': A story in the Sept. 29 Calendar section about the controversy over the cancellation of a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" in Berlin said the opera was first performed in 1782. It premiered in 1781.

Her decision sparked condemnation across Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans should not cave in to fears of Islamic violence.

A police spokesman said that police would be available if the opera house decided to stage the work but said there had been no talks with its management.

Berlin's councillor for internal affairs, Erhart Koerting, said in a statement the capital's security forces would be able to adequately protect the performance.

The head of the foundation that oversees Berlin's opera houses said he was working with the German Opera to find ways to reinstate "Idomeneo."

The opera, telling the story of the Cretan king Idomeneo, was first performed in 1782. Director Hans Neuenfels added the controversial scene to the current production, which had its premiere in 2003. It has not been performed since mid-2004.

Anger among many Germans has been reflected in the media.

"Why are we bowing to Islam?" read Thursday's front page of the top-selling daily newspaper Bild.

Bavarian state premier Edmund Stoiber said succumbing to fear represented a victory for terrorists.

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