A Christian organization has launched an online petition to block a Brussels opera house from staging a performance of an oratorio called Joan of Arc at the Stake, in which the Catholic saint appears naked.
The Pro Europa Christiana Federation objects to the performance of Arthur Honegger’s oratorio, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, or Joan of Arc at the Stake, insisting that the production is “obscene and transgender.”
The petition asserts that “the symbolic character of Saint Joan of Arc is again the target of a pornographic representation, this time in Brussels. An actress completely naked is meant to represent her and pushes the obscenity to a change of sex during the performance.”
Along with its online petition, which so far has garnered more than 10,000 signatures, the group has written to the director of La Monnaie Opera House, Peter de Caluwe, and to the Belgian minister in charge of cultural affairs, Didier Reynders, asking that the show be canceled because it is offensive to Christians.
Mr. de Caluwe dismissed the petition, saying this week that he was “astonished” by the association’s claims. Insisting that they are “lies” fabricated by people who have not seen the program, he declared that the show will go ahead as planned.
“As soon as all symbolism has been removed, a naked woman stands on stage,” he said. “This is not a revolutionary representation of Joan of Arc. Immediately after she was put to death, paintings and statues represented her half-naked.”
“La Monnaie is particularly committed to freedom of expression,” de Caluwe said. “We respect the opinions of others, but we ask them to show the same respect to us.”
The show, which is set to run from November 5-12, is orchestrated by Italian director Romeo Castellucci.