Russia: Rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ blocked

1 October 2012

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ from 1970 has been banned in Russia after a group of locals complained that it might offend religious sentiment, reported AFP, UPI and RIA Novosti on 28 and 29 September 2012.

The rock opera was scheduled to open the Rock Opera theatre in Rostov-on-Don on 18 October 2012,and has been regularly performed in Russia for decades, but now it is reported to have been delayed as a result of the complaint, submitted by 18 locals, said that the “image of Christ presented in the opera is false from the point of view of Christianity,” according to Agence France Presse.

“As it stands, the work is a profanation,” it added.

Recently, conservative Christian activism has been on the uptick in Russia, which some analysts attribute to the growing collaboration between the Kremlin and church leaders, RIA Novosti reported:
“Ultraconservative activism has been on the rise in Russia in recent months, which most analysts put down to strengthening of the alliance between the Kremlin and church leadership. Christian activists have attacked supporters of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot in the streets and sought a ban on a dairy brand that sported a rainbow in its design, calling it promotion of LGBT lifestyle.”

Reviewed by prosecutors
However, the decision to block Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical could be overturned after prosecutors review the complaint next week, RIA Novosti reported.

“This show has been performed by our theater for 20 years,” one of St Petersburg”s Rock Opera company actresses, Maria Klimova, was quoted as saying by the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets:

“People come to know this story [over] generations. There is nothing insulting in this work. It is his (Lloyd Webber’s) version of the story. This is all some kind of misunderstanding.”

Rock Opera has put on ‘Jesus Christ Super Star’ four times, without incident, RIA Novosti reported. In February 2012, the play was banned as “blasphemous” in several cities in the neighboring Belarus, also on believers’ complaints.

RIA Novosti – 29 September 2012:
Jesus Christ Superstar Banned in Russia’s Rostov
Taking the fight for believers’ rights to new extremes, Christian activists in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia successfully sought a ban on the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, media reported on Saturday.

Global Post – 29 September 2012:
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ banned in Russia
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ has been blocked by an appeal from residents who complain it may offend religious sentiment. By Talia Ralph

Sky News – 30 September 2012:
Russians Offended By Jesus Christ Superstar
Othodox Christians spark a probe into the 40-year-old rock opera after complaining it presents a distorted image of Christ.

RIA Novosti – 1 March 2012:
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Banned in Belarus
Stage performance of the seminal rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar was banned in several Belarussian cities as blasphemous and anti-Christian this week, 41 years after its international theatrical premiere.

Rock Opera company’s official home page:

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