Russia’s famed Bolshoi Theater has had to defend itself from attacks by disgruntled Orthodox Church members demanding that it remove a controversial staging of a classical opera from its repertoire.
Believers have called upon Russian Patriarch Kirill “to speak up against this blasphemy and to address the authorities over this matter” in a letter they submitted to Interfax.
Representatives of the Bolshoi played it cool over the allegations that the opera “tramples on the dignity of Orthodox Christians” and said the staging can’t be cancelled.
“If we don’t call for violence or national strife and don’t promote pornography, it’s impossible to ban anything,” Katerina Novikova, the Bolshoi’s spokeswoman told Interfax yesterday. “Tastes differ,” she added.
Controversial director Serebryannikov’s work
The staging of the “Golden Cockerel” opera by controversial theater director Kirill Serebryannikov has caused a stir since last year due to its unusual interpretation based on modern Russia.
But Serebryannikov’s intention to turn the opera into a bitter satire as it was intended by its creators has gone too far, according to Orthodox activists.
“We can witness the mockery of religious symbols, the priesthood and the Russian Orthodox church,” the activists’ letter read.
Cossacks with caricatures of Orthodox icons, who appear in the first act of the opera, and the tsar, who is portrayed as a patriarch, were among the things that upset them, according to the letter.
The controversial staging was also frowned upon by coordinator of The Orthodox Brotherhoods, Yury Ageshchev, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.
“All these so-called theaters are sponsored by the state. It means that with our own money they are feeding cultural hogwash to us, demoralizing the state-forming Russian nation,” Ageshchev said.
But not only Orthodox believers expressed concerns about where their money goes after watching one of the Bolshoi’s recent productions.
Svetlana Voronina demanded 1 million rubles compensation for “for the moral agony” she experienced watching the latest staging of Mikhail Glinka’s “Ruslan and Lyudmila.”
Moscow’s Tverskoi court, however, denied her claim at the beginning of April.