Sunday, November 28, 2010

Panties Problem at Flanders Opera

I didn't want to add oil to the fire by extra-blogging about the controversy that involved Vlaamse Opera and Muslim Executive of Belgium (MEB). Now, since the story is over blogging about it is benign.

The reason for a big fuss --that obviously instantly woke up the extremes on both sides of the issue-- was a trailer run on Belgian-TV announcing Die Entführung aus dem Serail which the spokesperson of MEB qualified as rude and offensive. He went on and said the following poster, showing a women wearing half-burka/half-panties, was "downright insulting"

Of course the ensuing polemics ranged from qualifying the complaint as "whining", to those who were surprised by the MEB reaction finding the trailer/poster "neither offensive, nor funny", to those who thought the publicity stunt was "insensitive"...

If they complain then it was probably a tad insensitive [nothing insulting though - Come ON!], but a good theater should push the boundaries and tackle important issues relevant to the society in which it creates art -- that's how theater lives instead of rewinding the old stuff for ever and ever...

You should know that the Flanders Opera is not a big rich opera house, but delightfully creative and audacious.  Ivo van genius-Hove, Guy Joosten, Guy Cassier... all come from this theater. 

Here is the famous trailer:

Seriously, I love the idea and regret not to have gone to see the show.
What's the idea? Mozart wrote this opera when the fear from Turks (Muslims) was still very present in Europe, and the impact of his opera on the crowd was much different than it is today. Today that fear is present --in different form-- but obviously not from Turks, but from Al-Qaeda.
Director Eike Grams replaced the dialogs by a Babel-like language (as to reflect a globalized world today), rising an important question: Is it still possible to understand one another in this complex form of communication? [Can we still live together? And are there values all people share?]

The role of Bassa Selim was played by an Arabian-Israeli film actor Norman Issan [he's the one who speaks in the trailer above].

Here is a longer"Making of" video for those who're interested.


  1. Je ne sais pas si je suis d'accord avec l'affiche; mais l'idee du spectacle, surtout les dialogues, est tout a fait GENIALE!

  2. Complètement d'accord!

    S'ils se plaignent que l'affiche est insultante c'est qu'ils ne l'apprécient pas et peut-être qu'il ne fallait pas pousser le bouchon...

    On peut néanmoins parler du double-standard parce qu'après l'interdiction de la voile intégrale en France, une vidéo pour dénoncer son absurdité s'appuie sur une idée très similaire, c.f. ICI.

    Le même truc pour critique un phénomène et le contraire... c'est bien pour un débat ---> c'est du bon théâtre ;)

  3. Complètement d'accord! ;';;;;;;;;;;;;;''''''''''''''