dpa/m&c, 17. Juni 2011
German musicians to boycott Japan tour over radiation fears
Munich - Some of Germany's top classical musicians are to boycott a planned concert tour of Japan out of fear of the radiation leak from the stricken Fukushima plant, sources at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich said Friday.

Kent Nagano, the US conductor of the opera orchestra, who is himself of Japanese ancestry, had tried to reassure them during an emotional and 'very tense' opera-house staff meeting that they would be safe during the autumn tour.

Nikolaus Bachler, head of the Bavarian State Opera told them the tour was part of their salaried employment - but he would allow unpaid leave during the period for those who refused to go.

The opera company and orchestra are booked for 10 performances in Japan from September 12 to October 12 of classics including Richard Wagner's Lohengrin with singer Jonas Kaufmann in the title role.

The state-subsidized opera company, one of the most prestigious in Germany, is set to fly 400 staff including instrumentalists, choir singers, stagehands and secretaries to Japan for the tour.

The company has promised to test tap water at all hotels for radiation and will draft an emergency evacuation plan in case an earthquake or tsunami strikes while the tour is under way.

Applications for unpaid leave will be accepted till the end of next week and it is unclear so far how many will take part, opera spokesman Christoph Koch said.

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