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20/12/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Die Tageszeitung 20.12.2006

Two months ago the production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" was taken off the programme at Berlin's Deutsche Oper for security reasons. In the production the heads of Buddha, Christ, Poseidon and Muhammad all roll. Faced with mounting criticism, artistic director Kirsten Harms then decided to continue the run, a move encouraged by members of the "Islamic Conference" convened in Berlin by German Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (see our feature "Self-censorship in major and minor"). Niklaus Hablützel reports on the media excitement on Monday when the opera was once more put on the bill, attended by the Interior Minister "and men you would describe as Islamic looking, if you weren't prevented from doing so by the inherent racism of such a judgement. To be more politically correct, you could see their how important they were from the pack of reporters bustling and jostling around the smiling men wherever they appeared. 'I must criticise the conference members who didn't come,' said one of them. He's right. Minority representatives should never pass up so much limelight."


Frankfurter Rundschau
20.12.2006

"A super-mega-giga scandal" rails Axel Brüggemann about the production of "Idomeneo" under the direction of Hans Neuenfels. "A scandal because the cast was utterly unbearable: middling to dreadful singers. A scandal because the conductor Ralf Weikert could not have made Mozart more anachronistic or bone dry. (...) It could have been an opportunity for the Deutsche Oper director Kirsten Harms to showcase her house as Germany's greatest opera tanker and silence the critics once and for all. But she didn't even manage to come up with decent music or scenes for this rare moment of media interest in the opera ."


Berliner Zeitung 20.12.2006

Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu talks with Bert Rebhandl about his third film "Babel", what it's like to shoot with Brad Pitt in places where no one knows him, and the Latin American Left: "I represent the Left today, a post-ideological Left. Ideologies divide things into black and white, superior and inferior. Bush is a fanatic, a nutcase who sees an axis of evil everywhere he looks. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who stylises himself as Bush's adversary, is also a radical, not a leftist. He too sees an axis of evil wherever he looks, and in that he's just like Bush. He produces anger, that's disturbing. Earlier politicians were useful to society. That's no longer the case. Nowadays they just use society for their own cult of fame, as a platform for eccentric appearances. In that they're no different from Paris Hilton."


Die Zeit
20.12.2006

Stephan Lebert and Stefan Willeke visit Bavaria's Lake Starnberg, home to Germany's densest population of millionaires, who live as they please and have no respect for the state. "The roads are the frontlines between the state and its citizens.... Little patched up holes everywhere. Entire streets are in need of resurfacing. It will cost millions. The mayor has become an expert in cheap road repair jobs because he can't cope with the fury of the citizenry. In other towns the mayor would get the citizens to help pay for the repair of the roads – up to 60 percent – but to do this he would have to pass a bylaw. He doesn't dare, from past experience. 'The people here love lodging complaints.' Even the most trifling things provoke them to write letters: 'I will withdraw my support.' He sent 75 citizens letters about overgrown garden hedges. 65 of them revolted."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
20.12.2006

Today's music pages are dedicated to "the black body in popular culture" under the sub-headings: the man, the woman, the drugs, the fat. "The interesting thing is the development in Afro-American pop culture which has branched off from the white American mainstream, and this is the appreciation of obesity," writes Julian Weber with reference to corpulent musicians like Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley and Notorious B.I.G.."Black pop culture has a variant which has nothing to do with the cliche of the funny fat person. It seems much more to be a coupling of consciously displayed freakdom and the old self-empowerment message 'Black is beautiful.'

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