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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 November 2006, 15:45 GMT
Thai opera in 'bad luck' threats
Traditional Thai dancer by a tank
The government was brought in by a military coup
A Thai composer has said the country's military-backed government has threatened to ban his opera.

Somtow Sucharitkul said officials spoke to him days before the opening of Ayodhya, which is based on the epic poem Ramayana.

They were said to be concerned that portraying the death of demon-king Thotsakan on stage was taboo.

The scene has been toned down following the complaints, he said, with the death now taking place off-stage.

The composer said officials told him that any misfortunes which befell those in power would be blamed on the opera.

The matter is sensitive because Thailand's interim government, which came to power after a coup in September, faces criticism for not lifting curbs on freedom of the press and other civil liberties.

Despite the changes to the scene, the culture ministry apparently returned with a new contract including "a broad clause saying that if anything in the opera offended the morals of Thailand, they had the right to close down the opera immediately," which the composer signed.

There has been no comment from the culture ministry.

The tradition that showing the death of Thotsakan will bring bad luck is usually only limited to Thai masked theatre.

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