The production, staged by Giancarlo del Monaco, places Beethoven's story of unjust imprisonment at the site of the Nazi death camp. Performances are scheduled for 2007.
Del Monaco, guest artistic director of the Erfurt Opera House, is no stranger to controversial stagings. His production of Hansel and Gretel, which opens next week in Erfurt, transfers the action of the story to a red-light district where the children become sex slaves for pedophiles. The witch of the original story has been transformed into a clergyman.
In response to the controversy, del Monaco said that he has held to the story's original premise. "Underlying [Humperdinck's] libretto is a tacit comment on pedophilia, violence, and sexual abuse of children," he said in an interview. "I am not attacking the church, but only attacking the church's denial that such things have gone on and continue to go on."