After Tannhäuser, the Kremlin moves to control opera repertoire

After Tannhäuser, the Kremlin moves to control opera repertoire


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2015

The deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration Boris Magomedov has told state-controlled RIA Novosti that he intends to introduce a repertoire approval system in order to avoid another Tannhäuser blasphemy row.


М.Магомедов провел заседание Совета при президенте РФ по международным отношениям

He said: ‘Today I spoke with the Ministry of Culture.Probably, it will be necessary at some stage to approve the repertoire, especially at state theatres … They should no be allowed to hurt the feelings of believers. We have no right to produce works that outrage part of the population and cause feelings of insult. This should not be allowed.’

Day by day, freedoms are extinguished in Putin’s Russia.

One leading director has called the current situation ‘a genocide of Russian theatre’.


  • Carolyn says:

    Really? That is similar to what is happening under such a guise in the US.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      WOW! I new it would come, but that was fast!

    • Luk says:

      details? evidence?

    • David J Gill says:

      No, it’s nothing like anything that has ever happened in the US.

      What is happening in the US that gives you this viewpoint? If you make a provocative, outrageous comment please give some justification, some reason why you have this viewpoint.

    • MacroV says:

      Beyond absurd. No government at any level in the U.S. would censor an opera production, ballet, theatre work, symphony, etc.. You do, on occasion, attract protests or even cancellations – e.g. those against The Death of Klinghoffer at the MET last fall – but those tend to come from the public or from the donors on which U.S. performing arts groups depend.

      Of course, it’s also the case because no government officials likely consider opera relevant enough to bother trying to censor. So one might take some perverse satisfaction in the fact that Russian officials consider opera significant enough to interfere.

  • Anon says:

    I heard in the US state of Indiana they are even going as far as creating a new law that is to protect – hold your breath – religious freedom. (sic!)

    Can anyone explain to me what “religious freedom” is? To me that’s the mother of all oxymorons. Religion is dogma. By definition. There is no freedom in dogma. It’s the exact opposite of freedom. Now a “freedom” to choose your dogma from several available, is that what they mean? Crazy people it seems.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s about the freedom to choose your own restrictions without hindering other people’s restrictions.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” – Amendment I.

      Official atheism, of course, has been a flat-out failure, synonymous with oppression, poverty and slaughter.

      • Anon says:

        not synonymous. correlated. Albania and North Korea forced atheism on their people. Others tried it with mixed “success”.

        Actually you also find atheism at the very places of highest financial success and immeasurable material wealth. The investment banking sector…

        • Gonout Backson says:

          You’re right, but not how you expected. Since Albania and North Korea can easily be considered as “synonymous with oppression, poverty and slaughter” and they DID impose atheism, the logical conclusion could be considered as clear and legitimate.

          But here’s the rub: the adoration of Enver Hoxha and the long line of Kims (not to mention Stalin, Hitler, more recently Fidel and Chavez, and Putin going the same way), where apostasy is punished by death, turns these countries into the worst (pseudo-)religious tyrannies in history.

          As Chesterton famously didn’t say: when people stop believing in God etc.

          Others tried it with “mixed success”, but not without having burned some churches and murdered some priests – beginning with the French Revolution, the living temple of “Reason”. I say “some” just to be – reasonable.

          BTW : the analogy with the investment banking sector (the evil incarnate, if I get you right) is obvious nonsense.

          • Anon says:

            Of course you don’t get it, but the investment banking sector is atheist by example. Comparing Stalin with Putin shows how extremist and detached from reality you are.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            Two absurd statements.

            1. Please show us a document stating that no one working in the investment banking system is allowed to go to church – any church of his choice.

            2. I haven’t compared Putin to Stalin, I said he was “going the same way”, which, in this particular context, is the “cult of personality” way (Soviet formula).

      • Anonne says:

        Who, aside from places like Albania, has official atheism? Many countries, including relatively well-run ones, have official (France) or semi-official secularism. Big difference..

    • Luk says:

      connection with the story in question?

  • David J Gill says:

    Now Putin’s Russia will sensor opera productions. Does this remind anyone of Stalin, Hitler?

    And, just yesterday we have a statement from Putin that Russia will defend oppressed Russian populations in neighboring countries. Does this remind anyone of Hitler’s justifications for invasion of neighboring countries?

    Did Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and continuing provocations in eastern Ukraine remind anyone of the Sudeten Crisis of 1939?

    • Anon says:

      You are out of touch with realities. The provocation in Ukraine started with the US administration pouring billions of dollars for the purpose of destabilization into the region. For obvious reasons.
      Crimea technically was not an annexation but a secession.
      Spare us the hyperbole, “Stalin, Hitler…”
      Putin at least has killed not even a tenth of innocent civilians and women and children like the US administration has in the last 15 years. Who is Hitler and Stalin here? Who is trying to control the world unilaterally?

      • Gonout Backson says:

        “The provocation in Ukraine started with the US administration pouring billions of dollars for the purpose of destabilization into the region.”

        This idiotic, putinesque lie – repeated here for an umptheenth time – has been ridiculed just as many times.

        Da capo: Mrs Nuland has spoken of 5 billion dollars in something like 20 years. That’s about a half of the YEARLY budget of the French Culture Ministry (7 billion euros). 5 billion in 20 years means 250 million a year. Met’s yearly budget is around 300 million.

        So, the nonsense impresses weak minds, but dies by simple arithmetics.

        And, of course, it reeks of unsufferable contempt for the People.

        • Anon says:

          50 million US $ poured into dubious Ukraine opposition groups by the US every year is a *LOT* of money in Ukraine. And that’s only the official amount, there is much more channeled through various dubious “foundations” etc. Of course the Ukraine “revolution” was fabricated. Have you not payed attention to the Nuland tapes? She says weeks before the events turned that way, who is going to be doing what and who is not, who is in favor for leadership posts and who is not. The US has masterminded and overlooked every single step of the regime change there. Please don’t be obtuse. You can have an argument, if these meddling by the US in Ukraine’s affairs was justified for a greater good or if it wasn’t. But you can’t really argue the US involvement there, that would be just silly.

          • Anon says:

            correction: 250 million US $, not 50.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            Here we go again… The same disgusting contempt for the Ukrainian people:

            In the old times, prophets you venerate invented the “false consciousness”. Now it’s just the dough. Much more prosaic.

            You probably don’t even know, but you’re repeating a very old tune.

            “The US has masterminded and overlooked every single step of the regime change there.”

            I imagine some of the money were paid to Yanukovich to finance his flight.

            Oy vey…

          • Anon says:

            Feel free to argue the known facts with new facts. Nobody cares about your chauvinistic rants though.

    • Milka says:

      Spot on Mr. Gill

  • Milka says:

    No more than the” crazy people” in mother russia to-day . they are rehabbing Ivan the terrible , now that the russian church is in cahoots with the ruling power it will
    be interesting to watch what the boot licking majority of muzhiks will do next . A few more street murders and back to the days of Stalin . Religious freedom is the one that holds the whip, in this case the formidable combination of state and church. To think they are not a
    backward nation is a mistake .

  • Interested party says:

    Hi there,
    Any chance you could let me know your source for Mr. Magomedov’s words? I’d like to find the statement in full, and any surrounding commentary. Do we know if this has progressed and in what form?