Israeli Opera rejects dance troupe's overture to Wagner
Wagner's music has been boycotted in Israel for decades because of the 19th-century German composer's anti-Semitic worldview and his descendants' ties to the Nazi party.
The Israeli Opera has asked a U.K.-based Israeli choreographer to remove an excerpt of a Richard Wagner opera from the soundtrack of her show, which will be showcased in Tel Aviv next month.
Israeli Opera director Hanna Munitz has asked Jasmin Vardimon to replace the overture of Richard Wagner's "Tannhauser," which features in the opening scene of her show "7734," with another musical piece. Wagner's music has been boycotted in Israel for decades because of the 19th-century German composer's anti-Semitic worldview and his descendants' ties to the Nazi party.
"After I was invited to perform in Israel I was told that I wouldn't be able to include the Wagner piece," Vardimon told Haaretz, in a phone interview from London. She said her eventual decision to comply with the Israeli Opera's request wasn't easy. "I debated the issue for a long time, and consulted many people whose opinions I appreciate. I've decided to do it out of respect for the Israeli audience."
Munitz says she is determined to keep Wagner's music off the Israeli Opera stage for as long as she is in office.
In 1998, she organized a debate to establish whether, more than half a century after the end of the Second World War, the Israeli audience would be more open to Wagner's music, which is regarded as one of the peaks of 19th-century opera. "People cried and wept," she said. "The debate was the most emotionally charged event I've ever attended. I then decided that, as long as I'm in this job, it won't happen. I'm not here to inflict misery on anyone."
Vardimon, who set up her dance company in London in 1997, created "7734" in 2010 while working at the Royal Opera. The show is about the Holocaust and the brutality of man, and starts with a dancer appearing on stage while conducting the overture. It is scheduled to open in Tel Aviv on May 24. "The fact that the issue came up highlights the relationship between art and politics, which is a central theme of my work," Vardimon says. "I have considered other 'authorized' Nazi composers, like Carl Orff and [Richard] Strauss, whose music is played in Israel, but have yet to find the right replacement."
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