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Siberia theatre at center of Tannhauser scandal to close for repairs

NOVOSIBIRSK, April 8. /TASS/. The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre which has come into the limelight over a controversial interpretation of Richard Wagner’s opera "Tannhauser" will be closed for reconstruction in May, the theatre's new director told TASS on Wednesday.

"After [Wednesday] talks in Moscow the theatre's future general partner has allocated 150 million roubles [$2.8 billion]," Vladimir Kekhman said.

He said the sum would be spent on the reconstruction of the auditoriusm, opera rehearsal classes, dressing rooms lobby and cafeteria.

The theatre is expected to open its doors in autumn.

The theatre's previous reconstruction took place ten years ago and cost 1 billion roubles ($18.5 million).

In late March Kekhman, who has headed the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St.Petersburg since 2007, was appointed general director of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre to replace Boris Mezdrich.

Mezdrich was fired after the Tannhauser opera production stirred heated public debates. Metropolitan Tikhon of the Russian Orthodox Church said religious symbols had been used wrongly in the production. Several thousand people rallied outside the theater to protest the staging and accused its creators of offending Christian feelings.