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Controversial opera canceled in Siberian theater after scandal

March 31, 2015, 13:47 UTC+3 NOVOSIBIRSK
The production was canceled by the new director after Boriz Mezdrich was fired by the culture minister
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© Kirill Kukhmar/TASS

NOVOSIBIRSK, March 31. /TASS/. New Director of the Novosibirsk State Theater of Opera and Ballet Vladimir Kekhman has canceled the controversial Tannhauser production, the theater’s press service told TASS on Tuesday.

The Tannhauser opera was staged at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater in December 2014. The production stirred heated debates after the regional leader of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Tikhon said church symbols are used wrongly in the production. Director of the opera Timofey Kulyabin and theater director Boriz Mezdrich were taken to court, accused of offending the feelings of believers. Last week, Mezdrich was fired by Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and replaced by Vladimir Kekhman, Director of Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg.

Censorship in creative arts unacceptable

Censorship in creative arts is unacceptable, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, commenting on the situation around fired Director of the Novosibirsk State Theater of Opera and Ballet Boris Mezdrich. However, the state has the right to expect appropriate performances financed from budget funds, Peskov added.

"It was said more than once that the state provides funds through budget subsidies, various grants, for cinema productions, staging performances in theaters," the spokesman recalled. "Of course, the state has the right to expect appropriate performances from creative teams - at least, [performances] that do not trigger such an acute reaction from the general public," he noted. "Along with that, it should not be interpreted as attempts to impose any type of censorship," he stressed. "Censorship in creative arts is unacceptable," Peskov added.

Commenting on the situation around the fired director of the Novosibirsk theater, the spokesman said the measure was not connected with the Tannhauser production. "I want to urge to read attentively the decree of the minister of culture," Peskov said. "The former director of the theater was fired not for the [Tannhauser] production, but for something like ‘insubordination’. As he [Mezdrich] was appointed by the Ministry of Culture, at the federal level, he has to comply with subordination rules," the spokesman stressed. "But this does not mean censorship in any way," he concluded.

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