Experts found no abuse of Christian symbols in "Tannhauser" performance

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Two religion experts agreed that the image of Christ in the opera is presented in the artistic context, so it can`t be considered evangelical

Religion experts found no desecration of Christian symbols in the opera "Tannhauser" directed by Timofey Kulyabin staged in the Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

"In the performance there`s no evangelical image of Christ, because the evangelical image of Christ is true, and the image of Christ in the performance is a fiction", says the statement of the religion expert Vladimir Vinokurov (MSU), announced in the Novosibirsk court on Tuesday, March 10.

The second expert Boris Falikov from the Center for the Study of Religions at Russian State University for the Humanities, noted that the author can`t be identified with the character, and the religious symbols and attributes in the performance are presented in the artistic context and, therefore, are not sacred. "Especially because this is fiction within fiction," said Falikov.

As Sibnet.ru reports, the court attached the experts` statements to the case, although the prosecutor was against that. Moreover, the witness for the prosecution theologist Boris Pivovarov testified in court.

Christ in "Grotto of Venus"

At the end of February, the prosecutor's office of Novosibirsk opened an administrative case against the director Timofey Kulyabin who had staged Richard Wagner's opera "Tannhauser" in the Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre, as well as against the Theater director Boris Mezdrich.

Criminal charges were filed under the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation "On deliberate public desecration of religious or theological literature, objects of religious veneration, signs or emblems of ideological symbols and paraphernalia or their damage or destruction." The case is reviewed by the Magistrate Court of Novosibirsk.

The investigation was carried out at the request of Metropolitan Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk who found the use of sacred symbols improper. In particular, the representatives of the Church were outraged at Kulyabin `s director version in which Jesus Christ is a protagonist of the erotic film "Grotto of Venus" being shot by Tannhauser, according to the plot.

Shortly after the initiation of proceedings it was found out that the prosecutor's office of Novosibirsk had concluded the desecration of the image of Christ in "Tannhauser" basing on the statement of the theologist archpriest Boris Pivovarov only, not having carried out an art expertise.

Kulyabin`s defense lawyer asked the court to conduct a comprehensive art and religion expertise, but the judge refused to do that. She noted that the case materials contained all the sufficient information to deliver a "fair and reasonable judgment."

In favor of the authors of the play came down chairman of the Union of theatrical figures of the Russian Federation Alexander Kalyagin, artistic director of the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre Oleg Tabakov, artistic director of the Russian Academic Youth Theater Alexey Borodin, singer Boris Grebenshikov, Novosibirsk Union of Theatre Workers and others. Signatures in support of Kulyabin and Mezdrich began to be collected in the Internet.

Text and pictures by INTERFAX.RU