Berlin Opera Loses Key Props Mystery of the Missing Heads

The Berlin opera house that cancelled a Mozart opera for fear it may provoke Muslim outrage and then put it back on its schedule after a storm of criticism faces a new challenge. The severed heads of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon have vanished just days ahead of the opening performance.


Scene from the opera in which Idomeneo places the heads on chairs.
DPA

Scene from the opera in which Idomeneo places the heads on chairs.

Berlin's Deutsche Oper is desperately seeking four plaster heads of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon that have gone missing from its prop store ahead of the December 18 opening of Mozart's "Idomeneo".

The opera house had initially cancelled the opera, due to open in November, after police warnings that a scene showing the head of Muhammad may provoke attacks by Islamists.

The decision led to fierce criticism from politicians and artists that the opera's management was caving in to fears of terrorism. It put "Idomeneo" back on its schedule after police changed their mind about the threat.

And now this. Deutsche Oper spokeswoman Bettina Raeder said: "The heads have disappeared. Even if we have to have new ones made they'll be ready in time for the opening."

There is also a performance scheduled for December 29. The opera tells the story of the Cretan king Idomeneo and deals with human resistance to making sacrifices to the gods.

In the production, directed by Hans Neuenfels, Idomeneo is shown placing the severed heads of Buddha, Jesus, Poseidon and Muhammad on chairs.

The row over the cancellation highlighted the growing fear of Islamic radicalism around Europe. Last year, publication of cartoons lampooning Muhammed in a Danish newspaper triggered violent Muslim protests around the world.

cro Die Welt

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