|Scene from 2008 Barcelona production of Wagner's opera Tannhäuser where Venus is kicking some bloody ass. (source)|
Russian Orthodox Church clerics got offended by Apple's logo, so it stands to reason they would go ape shit over an edgy modern interpretation Wagner's most romantic opera, Tannhäuser.
The story centers on the struggle between sacred and profane love, and redemption through love, a theme running through most of Wagner's mature work.In the past decade or so, mature work has translated to lots of skimpy dresses, full nudity and a great deal of highly erotic dancing -- what with smearing paint all over them naked selves etc. Generally, not the sort of thing you'd expect a Russian Orthodox cleric to be at all onboard with. Personally, it may have just sparked a new interest in opera with me.
A recent German production with intense Holocaust overtones was so controversial and provocative that some people in the audience asked for medical help. Now what I've heard of Russian director Timofey Kulyabin's new production it seems pretty tame in comparison -- no worse than what I've seen by 1970s Argentinian filmmaker Alexandro Jodorowsky.
That said, the production got Russian Orthodox regional head Metropolitan Tikhon pissed off. He filed a formal complaint with authorities against the director and apparently court proceedings are now underway.
Prosecutors said the director, who last year won Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask award, “publicly desecrated the object of religious worship in Christianity – the image of Jesus Christ in the Gospels”.Not that this should at all matter, but rumour has it that the cleric has a problem with a particular scene featuring Jesus.
The rendition features a scene where the Roman goddess Venus promises eternal love to Jesus Christ, were he to agree to stay with her in a grotto. But he rejects the offer and destroys the grotto with the help of the Virgin Mary, according to a summary on the theater's website.Or maybe it was just the poster? That would be so Charlie Hebdo.
The bishop said that the show “humiliates believers' feelings and the Orthodox Church, and incites religious hatred”. However, it remains uncertain whether he had seen the performance or was responding to a poster for the performance in which Jesus is depicted crucified between a woman’s legs.
|Kulyabin's version of the opera features a scene where Venus, goddess of love, attempts to seduce Jesus. (source)|
In June 2013, Russia’s State Duma passed a bill which made "offending religious feeling" a crime carrying a jail sentence. The move came a year after Pussy Riot performed their "Punk Prayer" in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Church, which saw two of the women end up behind bars.You see, this is a cautionary tale for all countries that still have blasphemy laws, because that's precisely what this is. The good bishop tells us his story.
“I wrote (to prosecutors) that Tannhauser breaches the rights of believers ... Believers are offended, so to say,” Tikhon said at a news conference this month.There you have it. In Russia, religious believers have the right to never be offended. If they are, they can cry out blasphemy! and the State will come charging in and arrest anyone who dares utter anything at all challenging to the religious status quo.
This law apparently carries a fine of 200,000 rubles ($3,165 USD) as an administrative offence. However, jail time has also been thrown about as a possible punishment -- up to three years.
Canada still has a punishment of up to two years for blasphemy. Don't think it couldn't happen here. Check out the new End Blasphemy Laws coalition of groups who want to work for a world where prude clergymen cannot determine what we're allowed to see as adults.