The German Opera in Berlin has canceled a production of Mozart’s Idomeneo, directed by Hans Neuenfels. Neuenfels added a final scene in which King Idomeneo lurches onto the stage and sits next to the severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. The reaction in Germany? Outrage–at the decision to cancel. There was no actual threat. Chancellor Angela Merkel made the rather obvious but apparently necessary declaration that “self-censorship out of fear is not acceptable.”
The final scene sounds fatuous–Mozart hardly needs editing–but it is telling that Germany is taking a firm stand, from left to right, in denouncing this act of self-censorship. Today interior minister Wolfgang Schaueble is meeting at a conference in Berlin about Muslim relations in Germany. The divisions between Muslims and local populations in Europe are far sharper than they are in the U.S., where integration has worked–and sharpening, it seems, by the day in Europe, where it hasn’t even really been tried.
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