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Detractors Complain About Mozart Opera

June 28, 2004

BERLIN (AP) _ A Mozart opera modernized to feature prostitutes, full-frontal nudity, drugs and sadistic violence has created a storm in Berlin.

The premiere of the ``Abduction from the Seraglio″ at the Komische Oper last week was met with shouts of ``Scandal!″ and ``That’s not Mozart!,″ and threats by opera house sponsor DaimlerChrysler that it would pull its $24,000 annual funding.

``The overall depiction of sex and violence is absolutely unacceptable,″ Matthias Kleinert, an adviser to DaimlerChrysler president and chief executive Juergen Schrempp, told the Bild daily.

``When the prostitutes were massacred on stage I had to leave,″ he told Berlin’s BZ daily.

The production, from Spanish director Calixto Bieito, moves the comic opera from an 18th century Turkish palace to a brothel, full of forced prostitution, drug abuse and violence.

The performance has its supporters, and the opera house has reported strong turnouts.

Berlin’s top culture official, Thomas Flierl, called the opera ``a true reflection of social phenomena,″ though Komische Oper artistic director Andreas Homoki said DaimlerChrysler’s stance was understandable.

It is ``legitimate and clear if a trustee withdraws because it can’t identify with the theater any more,″ he told the Berliner Morgenpost.

The opera house receives about $300,000 from corporate and private donations.

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