Holocaust opera cancelled after guests traumatised

Richard Wagner (Photo: Cäsar Willich)

Richard Wagner (Photo: Cäsar Willich)

A Holocaust-themed opera production was cancelled last week after its traumatic scenes caused a number of guests to seek medical help.

The modern production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser, had its opening night at the Rheinoper in Düsseldorf.

Despite initial protests from the opera house, director Burkhard C Kosminski reportedly insisted on a realistic portrayal of atrocities at a concentration camp "for artistic reasons", an opera house spokesperson told the BBC.

Graphic scenes included rape, suicide and a family having their heads shaved before they were shot.

Some guests were subsequently treated for shock.

A spokesperson for the opera house added that “some scenes were depicted very realistically [and caused] psychological and physical stress."

Michael Szentei-Heise, head of the Jewish community in Dusseldorf, told the Associated Press that the production was "tasteless and not legitimate.

"This opera has nothing to do with the Holocaust. However, I think the audience has made this very clear to the opera and the producer."

Wagner, who is widely regarded as an antisemite, was one of Adolf Hitler’s favourite musicians. Israelis still refrain from playing his music.

The production will now only be performed in concert.

Next week, the Wagner 200 festival will launch in London to commemorate the bicenturary of the man who wrote the antisemitic essay 'Judaism in Music' - likening the Jewish influence on culture to a "swarming colony of maggots" .

Wagner, who was said to inspire Hitler's concept of the "master race", once declared that "all Jews should burn to death".

The festival will launch next week and run until November.

Last updated: 10:09am, May 14 2013