Russian theater director fired over Wagner opera

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s cultural minister has fired the director of a Siberian theater whose staging of Wagner’s opera “Tannhauser” offended the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.

The announcement was made as several thousand people rallied outside the Novosibirsk theater to protest the opera, which they said was offensive to Christians.

They waved patriotic flags, including some with pictures of President Vladimir Putin. Among the signs they held during Sunday’s protest was one that said: “Orthodox Christianity is the foundation of the great Russian culture.”

As the controversy over “Tannhauser” grew in recent weeks, many Russian cultural figures spoke out in defense of the theater’s modern interpretation of Richard Wagner’s 19th century opera.

But on Sunday, Cultural Minister Vladimir Medinsky fired Boris Mezdrich as director of the Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theater.