Mozart Opera Cancelled Over Islam Worries Could Open in December

Performances of a Mozart opera canceled because of fears of Muslim anger could be reinstated as early as December if authorities guarantee security, Berlin's Deutsche Oper said Wednesday.

Opera spokesman Alexander Busche said a decision on reinstating performances of "Idomeneo" could be expected after Berlin's state interior minister or other authorities provide security details.

"As soon as we have that, it would be conceivable to stage the opera in December at the earliest," he said.

CountryWatch: Germany

Opera director Kirsten Harms last week decided to drop four November performances of "Idomeneo" after a vague warning from authorities — relayed to her by state Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting — that a scene featuring the severed heads of Jesus, Muhammad and Buddha could cause trouble.

The decision drew widespread criticism, including from Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Koerting suggested Tuesday during a public discussion that the cancellation was a mistake.

Harms had said she was prepared to reconsider the decision. After the discussion Tuesday she said that, "we aim to bring about a performance this year" — but only if a comprehensive security plan is promised.

Hans Neuenfels' production premiered in 2003 at the Deutsche Oper and was last staged there in 2004. He has refused to remove the severed heads scene, which was meant as a statement against organized religion.

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