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Controversial Wagner opera overhauled by theatre bosses

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May 09, 2013 | 7:18am EDT

Theatre bosses have been forced to drastically alter their production of an opera by legendary composer Richard Wagner after its controversial Holocaust setting disturbed audience members. Chiefs at The Rheinoper opera house in Dusseldorf, Germany took action after several members of the audience became so distressed by Tannhauser's harrowing concentration camp settings they had to seek medical help. All future productions of the opera will now go ahead without the original costumes or sets after director Burkhard Kosminski refused to tone down the most shocking scenes, which reportedly showed death in gas chambers, violent rape, beatings, and suicide by fire. A statement released by representatives of Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the opera company behind the production, reads, "After considering all the arguments, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot justify such an extreme impact of our artistic work. With paramount concern, we note that some scenes (especially the shooting scene) were depicted very realistically causing 'psychological and physical stress' to some audience members." The production, which opened last weekend (04May13), provoked "violent protests" on its first night, according to local newspaper reports, and was branded "tasteless and not legitimate" by the Head of Dusseldorf's Jewish community, Michael Szentei-Heise. He told the Associated Press, "Members of the audience booed and banged the doors when they left the opera house in protest." Pared-down concert versions of the opera will commence on Thursday (09May13).

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