NOVOSIBIRSK, April 1. /TASS/. The Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday denied any link to the scandal over stage production of Wagner's Tannhauser opera staged at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater. The scandalous stage production aroused strong confrontation between religious and secular groups in society and resulted in the resignation of the Novosibirsk theater director Boris Mezdrich.
" The Novosibirsk Diocese focuses attention on the fact that it has lodged no complaints with law enforcers, asking to open an administrative or a criminal case, or filed any lawsuits against the stage version of the Tannhauser," representatives of the Novosibirsk Diocese declared in an official statement.
The Diocese informed that it had been receiving threats of physical tortures for "the organization of a prayer picket on foot in defense of objects of holy worship and believers' feelings," held in the center of Novosibirsk on March 29 in which around 3,000 took part.
Nevertheless, Metropolitan of Novosibirsk and Berdy Tikhon declared at TASS press center on February 13 that he had filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s office, protesting against inappropriate use of church symbols. The Prosecutor's office opened an administrative case against both theater and stage directors on charges of "blasphemy of objects of religious worship".
In March, the Novosibirsk court dropped criminal proceedings for reasons of "absence of elements of crime".
The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater is subordinate to the Culture Ministry, and all its projects are financed from the state budget. "For the sake of attracting the audiences and giving them a shock one might do anything. But I do not understand why it was done at budgetary expense," MP Yevgeny Gerasimov said on Wednesday when the incident was discussed by a commission for culture of the Russian Public Chamber.
In the meantime, the Moscow State Duma has suggested that theaters should sign state contracts in which the contractor, represented by the Federal Culture Ministry, should stipulate requirements for stage productions financed from the state budget.
Now, the Russian Orthodox Church has declared that" it is ready for a dialogue with representatives of art and culture."