German Director to Stage America-Bashing Opera on Set Depicting 9/11 Ruins

Later this month, in Erfurt, Germany,  a theater troupe will perform an America-bashing version of a Verdi opera. The setting?  Ground Zero on Septermber 11, in the ruins of the World Trade Center.  

According to a write up in the London Telegraph, the “provocative” staging of Verdi's A Masked Ball constitutes a “populist critique of modern American society.”

The presentation will feature naked actors clad only in Mickey Mouse masks representing the “victims of capitalism.”  The naked Mickeys will be joined by Elvis impersonators, an actress with a Hitler moustache delivering the Nazi salute, Uncle Sam and other iconic figures that “deliberately toy(s) with images that are extremely sensitive both in the US and Germany.”

Telegraph reporter Harry de Quetteville acknowledged only once that the September 11 setting was “outrageous” when he wrote, “The self-consciously outrageous September 11th staging of Verdi's A Masked Ball has been dreamed up by Austrian director Johann Kresnik.”

According to the article, Kresnick thinks September 11 at Ground Zero is the perfect setting for a production “aimed at showing the disparities of rich and poor” in which “the naked stand for people without means, the victims of capitalism, the underclass, who don't have anything anymore.”

De Quetteville followed that quote with this wry sentence, “Rehearsals suggest that Mr. Kesnik's anti-capitalist staging is unlikely to be celebrated for its subtlety.” He also decided to quote the general manager of the theatre where the production is currently being staged who said the naked performers wearing only Mickey Mouse masks are “very beautiful, poetic.”

De Quetteville noted that while American audiences “may find naked singers cavorting in front of the iconic ruined mesh of World Trade Centre metalwork most provocative,” audiences in Germany would be outraged by a scene with “a female singer with a painted on toothbrush moustache performing a straight arm Nazi salute.”

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.