For even a performer who courts controversy, Madonna’s upcoming concert in Moscow has drawn considerable uproar.
In advance of the Tuesday concert at Luzhniki Stadium, the pop star has haggled with the city over a venue choice and altered her original plan to perform on Sept. 11 after critics said it would be disrespectful to the victims of the terror attacks five years ago.
The show’s finale, a segment where Madonna sings while suspended from a cross, is at the heart of religious’ groups objections to the show. The practice was protested at earlier stops of the “Confessions” tour in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands — where last week a priest was arrested for phoning in a fake bomb threat.
“This lady has been glorifying human passions with the help of religious symbols for years — crosses, statues and beads. Now she thinks it is time for her to crucify herself in public. It means the singer is in need of spiritual help,” Father Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, was quoted as saying by the Pravda news Web site.
Several small protests against the upcoming concert have taken place in the past few weeks, mostly by devout Russian Orthodox believers.
But for tens of thousands of Muscovites, her show is one of the most exciting events of the year’s cultural calendar, a sold-out blowout to end the summer. TV cameras staked out Moscow’s airports for Madonna’s arrival Monday afternoon.
Police on Monday promised extensive security measures for the more than 50,000 ticket holders, including passing each of them through metal detectors and package inspection points. In all, some 7,000 police will be on duty for the concert, including riot police stationed outside the stadium.