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Russian cleric receives government anti-extremism award for leading attacks against stagings of Wagner's ‘Tannhäuser’


Alexander Novopashin, the abbot of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Novosibirsk, has received an award “for counteracting extremism.” The head of Russia’s federal Anti-Extremism Center (Center E) personally gave Novopashin the award at a ceremony in Novorossiysk.

Novopashin gained fame for his efforts to shut down local performances of Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser in Novosibirsk. The production, directed by Timofei Kulyabin, included scenes imagining the descent of Christ into sin. It earned a wave of positive reviews and viewer popularity but faced accusations from clerics that the production “offended the feelings of believers,” a criminal offense in Russia. Novopashin led prayer meetings against the opera and attempted to trigger a legal investigation. The resulting scandal led to the firing of the Novosibirsk Theater of Opera and Ballet and the removal of Tannhäuser from the company’s repertoire.