The fracas over the Deutsche Oper Berlin’s cancellation of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo,” produced this interesting factoid in the New York Times (9/27/06).
The bloody head of Muhammad brought on stage at the end of the opera is accompanied by the heads of Jesus, Buddha, and Poseidon. Could Mozart have ever written such an ending? (I have never seen Idomeneo, though it’s being produced at the Met this season). No, he could not and did not!
The bloody ending is new. It was introduced in a 2003 production by Hans Neuenfels, described by a colleague as “a secularist who does not believe religion solves the problems of the world.” Mr. Neuenfels’ agent said in the Times story, “you couldn’t chage [the ending]; it is part of the story.”
Well, apparently you can change the ending–as long as it was written by Mozart.