(Marina Shimadina’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 6/5.)
Earlier this year, Russia was shaken by an event the like of which it had never seen before – the director of an opera was taken to court by an Orthodox cleric.
Timofei Kulyabin, whose version of Wagner's opera Tannhauser was being staged at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater, was accused by Metropolitan Tikhon, the head of the Orthodox Church in the region, of "improper use of religious symbols" and offending the rights of believers.
Kulyabin had adapted the plot of opera Tannhauser to the modern era, making the knight Tannhauser a film director shooting a film about Christ in Venus's grotto. The court acquitted Kulyabin, but nevertheless, the Ministry of Culture decided to dismiss theater producer Boris Mezdrich, despite protests from prominent Russian cultural figures.