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Opening night in Hamburg... whilst Russian director sits in house arrest

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

By Alex Stuart

Russian film, ballet and opera director Kirill Serebrennikov will not be present at the premiere of his opera, a reworking of Verdi’s Nabucco, which opens on 10th March. Accused of embezzling $2million of public funds by the Russian government, he was detained in house arrest in Moscow two years ago, without access to a phone or internet. Serebrennikov had to direct via a USB stick, whereby filmed rehearsal extracts were uploaded and sent to him. He would add his comments before sending the USB back to Hamburg.

Serebrennikov denies all the charges against him, which supporters say are an attempt by the government to silence the freedom of expression activist. Serebrennikov’s Nabucco is indeed saturated with political messages, criticizing the rise of nationalism and islamophobia in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, considering this controversial story and rumours flying such as the 35 refugees hired to play part of a ‘slave choir’, the season has sold out before its even started.


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