The Latvian director Alvis Hermanis, presently staging Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust at the Opéra de Paris, is at the centre of a media storm in Germany after telling Hamburg’s Thalis theatre he did not want to work in ‘a refugee welcome centre.’
In a letter published by the theatre, Hermanis went on to equate refugees with terrorists. He called the city ‘unsafe’, claimed the 9/11 attackers came from Hamburg and opined that we are now in a war in which everyone had to choose sides.
Hermanis, 50, is a capable director who has become a summer fixture in Salzburg with successive productions of Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten (2012), Birtwistle’s Gawain (2013) and Il trovatore (2014).
It is not clear what motivated his unpleasant and irrational outburst but there are now growing calls for German theatres to boycott this wayward, Baltic personality.