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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 22:36 GMT
Tight security for Mozart opera
A police officer in front of Berlin's Deutsche Oper
Despite fears of protests the show took place without incident
The German Opera's controversial production of Mozart's Idomeneo has gone ahead in Berlin.

It had been feared that the revival could prompt violent demonstrations by Muslim groups.

One scene shows severed heads of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha and the Greek god Poseidon. Islamic tradition bans images of Muhammad.

Audience members underwent stringent police security checks. The event passed off peacefully.

Nearly 2,000 ticket-holders filed through metal detectors, delaying the start of the show by an hour.

Several Muslim leaders refused to attend, but the head of Germany's Turkish community, Kenan Kolat, criticised their decision.

"I think it is important to set up a sign for freedom of art and that's why I'm here tonight," he told reporters outside the opera house.

Controversial twist

A portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Idomeneo received its premiere in 1781, a decade before Mozart died
The opera was pulled from the schedule in September - a decision that triggered criticism from several German leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned against self-censorship by fear.

And while some Muslim leaders praised the move, Mr Kolat branded it as a step back to "the Middle Ages".

The production, by director Hans Neuenfels, received its premiere three years ago, and it was his idea to include the controversial twist with the religious icons.

It gained little attention at the time, but the subsequent riots over Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad meant that Monday's performance generated controversy.

And Mr Neuenfels himself was critical of the revival of his production, insisting his staging was not altered.

The scene in question, where the king of Crete presents the severed heads, was a protest against "any form of organised religion, or its founders", he added.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Clips from the controversial performance



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