When Art and Sensitivity Clash: The 'Klinghoffer' Broadcast Cancellation

Thursday, June 19, 2014

John Adams's 'The Death of Klinghoffer' has its Met premiere on October 20 John Adams's 'The Death of Klinghoffer' has its Met premiere on October 20 (English National Opera/Richard Hubert Smith)

The Metropolitan Opera's decision to cancel its global HD and radio broadcasts of John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer has stirred up heated responses from around the classical music world. Some have called the decision sensitive and sensible given the real-life subject matter. Others have said it showed a lack of courage of artistic convictions and principles.

The Death of Klinghoffer centers on the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists, who murdered the Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer. The Met cited an "outpouring of concern" from Jewish groups that the HD transmission, scheduled for Nov. 15, might incite global anti-Semitism.

In this podcast, we get opposing views on this from two Met-watchers:

  • James Jorden, editor of Parterre Box and a contributing writer to the New York Post
  • Tim Smith, classical music critic of the Baltimore Sun

Segment Highlights

On the Met's decision

Jorden: My problem with losing the HD [broadcast] is there's a very large audience who have the opportunity to see and make their own decisions about this work that are now being cut out of the process. There are about four to five times as many people who see the HD as see the performance in the theater. In a sense, the Met is cutting out about 75 to 80 percent of the total audience for this piece.

Smith: Part of me says, I think I know what they're talking about. It may be overstating things. But if you do believe that something is going on that is so dangerous for Jews right now, then I think it's at least sensitive to say that maybe this particular piece right now...we don't want to be a part, if there is truly a chance that it could somehow be exploited by people who are already looking for excuses anyway.

How the Met could have handled the objections differently

Jorden: There's a teachable moment here that's going un-taught. There's something we can learn about the racial politics of the situation that could be approached by handling the HD Broadcasts in a sensitive way. In other words, by including supplemental materials during the intermission, before the broadcast, so that people can come into it with an informed point of view.

Smith: When you read some of the less emotional but still very serious analyses by people who really dislike this opera, you can at least understand where they're coming from. They can cite chapter and verse about parts in the libretto that really they find offensive, starting with the title: they don't know why it's not called "The Murder of Klinghoffer." I didn't think that that kind of objection was driving this decision but merely the fact that this is going out into a world that isn't so easy to have a dialogue with.

Should Art Ever Be Silenced for a Perceived Social Good?

Smith: Not everybody is thinking of this [opera] as a masterpiece, which it may very well be. It's a fabulously written piece and it's full of deep thought and all that stuff. But it doesn't mean that everybody's hearing it that way, or is even interested in it as a work of art. They're interested in other things about it.

Jorden: As the saying goes, information wants to be free. The more knowledge people have, the better capable they are in a potential sense of making a good decision.

Weigh in: Listen to the full podcast above, and tell us what you think about the Met's decision in the comments below.


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Comments [48]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

"TO BE OR NOT TO BE" letting the terrorists spout their hatred and scorn as realistically one should expect from idealogues whom no amount of discussion would dissuade them from uttering their true beliefs is a lost cause.
Judge everything and everyone by their actions rather than their "spin." CIVILIZATION takes a giant step backward when one cannot trust in their own articulation of grievances, real or imagined, to strike out at cultural institutions or any non-combative force. Observe the discontent, HORROR, of the world situation where lives and property are dismissed as necessary collateral damage to achieve an end, a goal, benefitting only the aggressor. Everyone deserves to be heard no matter how outrageous to others that person's comments are, but violence and destruction should not become the trigger happy preemptive "reasoning judgment" allowable by society. One can only hope that logic and society's rebuke to hatred provoked vandalism will ultimately prevail. It will be a better world for all of us if common sense takes hold.

Jun. 29 2014 10:51 PM
Roger from NY

You really are all kidding, I hope. I grasp that the cultural intelligentsia continually congratulate themselves on their boundless tolerance, and pretend to understand things beyond their limited comprehension. Indeed, they still congratulate themselves for graduating from Velveeta to Brie. But, there are some things which are so antithetical to civilized society, in such poor taste and so lacking in humanity that they simply should be rejected by right thinking people - let alone be the convivial subject of a so called work of musical art.

How about an Opera sympathetically exploring the mind set of a rapist? . . . or a carryover Klansman plotting to assassinate President Obama? I doubt either would find a stage - unless it was engineered to inflame hatred of those of opposing views.

Perhaps, in the name of the purity of art (divorced from the real world) we should fund and enthusiastically receive an Opera exploring the positive side of a certain NFL Quarterback torturing dogs. Personally, I await an Opera explaining why Mohammed Atta was just doing Allah’s work and understandably caused the death of thousands of New Yorkers.

I love the Opera, but this is too much. While I doubt many of you know where the "Pale” is or the origin of the expression, this so called art is - far ‘beyond the Pale’.

Jun. 26 2014 11:57 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Carol and Mr. Constantinos, unfortunately there is too much freedom of expression and thought for me but not for thee going on. Someone on the other blog called me a moron.
Best wishes to all and let's keep this classy and civilized.

Jun. 24 2014 08:09 AM
rick oconnell from ny, ny

whenever some person or group says in effect "I don't like something, so you shouldn't be able to see it and make up your own mind on it", it is nothing other then censorship,bigotry and narrowmindedness. When this is done for the most part by individuals and groups that have not seen the piece in question and have little or no interest in the art form makes it particularly hypocritical and galling. I saw the piece at BAM 22 years ago and the fact that it is more controversial now than then is a sad commentary. It is a powerful and intellectually stimulating piece and treats all the people in the opera as human beings (come to think of it, these might be the reasons some people want to ban it!). Supposedly the fear is that some in the European HD audiences will be inspired to commit anti-Semitic acts (it would be hard to maintain that logic for American HD audiences where the overwhelming amount of attendees are over 70 and middle and upper middle class). Who knew that the European HD opera audiences are populated by young militants who are just aching to see an intellectually rigorous two hour plus modern opera to inspire them to acts of senseless violence they wouln't have otherwise thought of?

Jun. 23 2014 11:15 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

Hi Concetta,
Yes, I also enjoy a good kerfuffle! I agree with your remarks. I think our society is getting a bit too oversensitive to perceived offenses. I'm sure if we look closely enough, we can find something to be offended at in just about any opera, play, or other art form, and if we followed the Met's logic, soon we would be canceling everything and there would be no operas, concerts or art exhibits left to attend!

Jun. 23 2014 04:21 PM
constantinos from Greece

Actually Ms Nardone Shakespeare was in my mind as well, particularly Shylock. A Jew no less who is prepared to take a pound of flesh for the money owed to him. He is definitely the bad guy in this play. Up until now "The Merchant of Venice" has had a pretty good run without protests regarding its staging. Othello is another fine example (both play and opera).
While flipping through the pages of Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" I noticed that all the n---er words were crossed out. Perplexed I asked the student why did she mutilate a masterpiece of modern literature (IMHO, I'm a Chemist so what do I know). She said that her English teacher, an American from Michigan, told them to do this as the n- word was not allowed in his classroom.
If we are afraid of words and their effects then our actions are probably wrong.The way we raise our children and the examples we set for them to follow are suspect. In Greece we have a saying: A clear sky is not afraid of clouds!

Jun. 23 2014 04:02 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Iago remarks that Desdemona will soon tire of the dark embraces of that savage with thick lips. Lets cancel that opera as well.

Jun. 23 2014 01:07 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Fine letter Mr. Constantinos.
Why don't we cancel operas about whores, gypsies, Sicilians. Forza del Destino is about a half-breed. Let's cancel that opera because I think the word mulatto was used. As for the Merchant of Venice, no one seems to notice that his daughter Jessica is joyful at her father's punishment. This bothers me about that play. Everyone seems to be focused on the assumed anti-Semitism.

Jun. 23 2014 12:17 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Hello Carol,
I have jumped into the other kerfuffle going on about this opera. Please join in as this is too much fun for me to see all the different responses by myself. It is not fun for me about the horrors that people have gone through but fun to see all the reactions.
Best wishes

Jun. 23 2014 12:08 PM
Constantinos from Greece

I have read some of the comments and I find all too often that we live in a world where the few decide what the many learn, read, do and oftentimes think. This is the greatest danger of all. Apartheid, Fascism, Communism, 9/11ism have managed to do. The flock is scared of outside dangers while the sheepdogs are scared that the sheep might think bad thoughts. The shepherds count profits and buy more dogs. they also infiltrate the sheep making sure they remain scared.
In Europe there is a rise in the people who turn and vote for Fascist/extreme right wing/ Neonazi parties, because it appears that the middle-of-the-road parties have been caught with their hands in the cookie jars lying through their teeth about their intentions. It seems that the extremists, with or without quotation marks, have proper arguments while the conservatives, ( 2kids, nice job, a dog, a house, two cars) have none. So they rely in mud throwing to refute these arguments. Being in education I am more afraid about the ideas the kids will obtain from lack of thought and propaganda rather than the ideas they will develop through clinical thinking and self-screening. This can only be done by having information, learning how to analyze said information and keeping the bits and bytes they deem proper.
Remember the Jews were not the only people persecuted by the German Nazis. The Palestinians are being persecuted by the Israelis even after the two leaders for the two sides were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for starting to discuss peace. Let us stop looking back to find examples of racism, bigotry, fascism and anything else you care to mention. There are plenty of examples in our present. Let us remember that the one ultimate force in the Universe (for those that believe) has always taught 'love thy neighbor' to all religions and all the main religious books profess of love.

...But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Jun. 22 2014 04:55 AM
Philip Munger from Wasilla, Alaska

I have tried to follow the performance history of Death of Klinghoffer since its premiere in 1991. At the time, I was seriously considering writing an opera about Edward Teller’s role in Project Chariot, a late 1950s plan to use four hydrogen bombs to create a new harbor in northwestern Alaska. I wanted to model it somewhat after John Adams’s first opera, Nixon in China, so was interested in how Adams’s voice was developing in his second opera.

The composer’s responses to criticisms and cancellations over the work’s 23-year history are studies in restraint. His most recent response to the most recent cancellation (The HD and radio broadcasts) was in the NYT this week. His conclusion is this:

“‘I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,’ he said. ‘They’ll say, “Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,” and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.”

He is right about that. In 2003 I wrote a cantata about Rachel Corrie, an American college student killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. I sought and got permission from the Corrie family as I proceeded. They attended the London premiere. Between its completion and premiere, productions or planned performances were canceled in Anchorage, New York City and Toronto. The work, The Skies Are Weeping, has been labelled "anti-Semitic" by hundreds who have not heard it, but by none who have. Being falsely accused of having created anti-Semitic art is, as Adams states, a stain that it is almost impossible to wash out.

That being said, when I sought to write an opera critical of Edward Teller, I sought and got his permission to use his words and character. I did the same with Rachel Corrie's family. I think Alice Goodman and John Adams should have only proceeded after having gotten permission from the Klinghoffers. They didn't. Ilsa and Lisa Klinghoffer attended its premiere and were offended. I can't imagine bringing people through something like that because of my creation.

All this is sad because The Death of Klinghoffer is a major American masterpiece. It has been seen worldwide by tens of thousands already. Penny Woolcock's film based on the opera has been seen by tens of thousands more. I have yet to see a report of anyone who has seen the opera, the choruses or the film becoming anti-Semitic, or committing an act of violence. The notion is absurd, and I bet Peter Gelb knew that when he said it.

Jun. 21 2014 11:12 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

The logic of the Metropolitan Opera is baffling to me. First of all, if they think this opera is so offensive, why are they staging it at all?
Second, what gives them the right to decide who may or may not see the performance? Those who can actually go to the Met are allowed to see it, but those who would like to see the HD broadcast are not?
Third, do they think that people are not able to decide for themselves whether something would be offensive to them? No one is being forced to see this opera; if you think it is offensive, don't go to see it. Personally, I am not interested in this opera, so I wouldn't want to see it.
And finally, I hope the Met is not becoming like another infamous group that took it upon itself to protect the people from what it called "degenerate art". We all know how that turned out.

Jun. 21 2014 10:36 PM

I see if one is not sympathetic to the particular ethnic group here, one's comment is erased. Opera is often controversial. This is the kind of censorship, like the caving in of the Met, that only proves the point of those who are alienated and offended by an ethnic group who eternally claims and wallows in victimhood (notwithstanding or denying the horrors they suffered), yet thinks nothing of treating other groups rather badly. Wasn't there a time when British soldiers thought zionists were terrorists and died from their terrorists acts? Please stop whitewashing history in one group's favor? There is enough evil in humanity to admit and share the blame all around, and for this alone, the opera should be seen.

Jun. 21 2014 02:23 AM
Alan from New York , NY

May I quote from the libretto, which no one has referred to in this discussion of why the Met chose to present this opera in the city with the largest Jewish population in the world, and with a substantial portion of its subscriber base (myself included) being Jewish. In the opera, the hijacker Ramdo delights in singing "Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute." If a quote aimed at another group using such a poisoned pen had been uttered by someone in another opera, the discussion would never have reached this point.

Jun. 20 2014 05:32 PM
David Hodes from Dobbs Ferry, NY

Why didn't Adams call his opera "The Murder of Klinghoffer"? By failing to acknowledge this act as a sadistic crime, he is pandering to the terrorist cause. Adams can take a long ride in a fast machine on a short pier.

Jun. 20 2014 05:15 PM
Henri from New Jersey

If "Godspell" didn't cause anti-Semitic reactions, it is doubtful that this opera will.

Jun. 20 2014 04:14 PM
Jeffrey M. Shabman from West Allis, WI

Since the MET has seen to it in censoring my freedom of information in this country I have purchased the opera 'The Death of Klinghoffer' from an available DVD via Amazon.com so I can judge for myself.
As the nephew of surviving Treblinka Concentration camp prisoners helped by the Bielski brothers I feel we all need to understand all forms of persecution so we can keep alive the pledge: NEVER AGAIN!

What other projects does the MET plan to take from us in the future. They already have cancelled the premiere production of Donizetti - Roberto Devereux. Do they fear some repercussion from the Queen of England next?

Jun. 20 2014 03:33 PM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

This is a pipe dream,but......The Met cancels all performances of 'The Death of Klinghoffer', gets its artistic cojones together, announces performances (concert or bare-bones) of Robert Ward's 'The Crucible' with lots of attendant panel discussions, inter-faith meetings (all major faiths participating!), lots of publicity, restore the HD and radio broadcasts for 'The Crucible' and in a season or two perform 'The Death of Klinghoffer'. Remember opera has always had "dangerous" ideas embedded in them: why, the very idea that servants were smarter than their "masters" is the underlying idea of the opera that serves as the Opening Night performance.

Jun. 20 2014 01:15 PM

This is not new. "Klinghoffer" has been controversial since the get-go! I'll leave this debate to my betters; I shall pay money and buy the DVD. I love John Adams' work (all of it, albeit some more, some less).

Jun. 20 2014 10:40 AM
Dana

see http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2014/06/19/the-mets-staging-of-klinghoffer-should-be-scrapped/

Jun. 20 2014 08:36 AM
Stephen Victor from Pennsylvania

See embedded link. Couldn't have said it better myself.
http://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2014/06/snuff-opera/?utm_source=Mosaic+Daily+Email&utm_campaign=f0ee1fb3a1-2014_6_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b0517b2ab-f0ee1fb3a1-42442477

Jun. 20 2014 07:54 AM
John from Westchester NY

Personally I find it ironic and a bit comedic how a performance of this sort can be cancelled for the above reason but performances of Wagner's operas are huge favorites. Wagner a dedicated anti semite and favorite of the NAZI party so much so that A Hitler regularly had performances scheduled of Wagner's opera's for NAZI party celebrations and also visited Wagner's family. And now everyone thinks Wagner was a genius. Well, historically speaking, you are in infamous company.

Jun. 20 2014 12:32 AM
Dr. George Ellis Mims from Mobile, Alabama

The Metropolitan Opera must not become a political organization no matter how many musicians, composers, authors beg such to happen. The Met is sacred ground for beautiful singing without current political points being made. I have Sirius and LOVE the Met broadcasts! Our family has attended Met performances when we've lived in Old Greenwich and twice for some years in NYC. We cherish objectivity that doesn't raise issues especially right now with the Middle East burning up. This is not the time to bring such into the Met that once again would seriously hurt those of us who have Jewish roots and love the Met. Thank you for listening to our concerns. Peace, George Mims

Jun. 20 2014 12:08 AM
Bernie from UWS

@michael Meltzer - first, welcome back. Second, I respectfully disagree. Plenty of great art has been made based on real-life events. Think of films like "Gandhi," "Schindler's List" or "Amadeus." Or paintings like Picasso's "Guernica" or "Washington crossing the Delaware." Or operas like "War and Peace" or "Nixon in China." And countless novels. To suggest that artists are using real-life characters in order to cash in somehow is a misreading of the creative process.

Oh, and third, there are a lot of commenters here who write as if they've seen "Death of Klinghoffer" but I have my doubts. At least go rent the film version before speaking so insistently about the piece.

Jun. 19 2014 11:48 PM
Michael Meltzer

JK is right on target. If Adams had written an allegory, He could have underscored any political point he chose and would have been entirely on his own artistically. But, controversy and sensation (supplied by the name "Klinghoffer") were commodities he could take to the cash register.
That he seems to require those two crutches does not augur well for his place in music history.

Jun. 19 2014 11:17 PM
Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

The decision not to broadcast The Death of Klinghoffer strikes me as a weak publicity stunt. If the Met feared the effect the work would have on anybody, why bother to produce it in the first place?

Jun. 19 2014 11:03 PM
JK from NY

If this is really art and not a political statement disguised as art, one question must be asked. Why use the real incident. Why not create a fake incident and ethnicities. Get people to think. But that was never the intention.

Jun. 19 2014 10:55 PM
E from Earth

Here is the truth: the vast majority of Americans don't give a damn about operas, unless Bugs Bunny is parodying one. The Met is a major money-losing pit. The fact that they picked this piece of dreck to stage doesn't say much in their favor.

Jun. 19 2014 09:37 PM
Michael Meyers-Jouan from Wanaque, NJ

This reminds me of the furor about Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” Various groups condemned the book, and demanded that it be banned from the schools, because of the character Jim, an escaping slave, and because the book occasionally used the “n word.”

It became clear that the people who were outraged, and who were condemning the book, had never read it. Jim was portrayed as a noble and sympathetic character. Huck Finn, who initially followed his culture’s views on slavery, was completely persuaded by his time with Jim to reject slavery and prejudice, and to declare that he would rather be viewed as a criminal than turn Jim over to the authorities. Twain couldn’t have been more supportive of equality and humanity.

Reading the synopsis of this opera, I don’t see much sign of any bias for the hijackers. Quite the opposite. Perhaps there’s more meditation of the futility of violence than there is on the behavior of any of the participants. Perhaps some people have reacted to the last scene (in which “she sees as his [the captain’s] accommodation of the hijackers.” I think it’s more accurate to see this as the author’s attempt to point out the effects of violence – the captain certainly can’t be accused of supporting the hijackers.

It’s difficult to make a detailed evaluation of an opera based on a short description. I prefer to suspend judgment until I have had a chance to see the opera for myself. In order to do that, I had planned to attend one of the HD broadcasts. It's a shame I won't be able to.

Jun. 19 2014 09:06 PM
Frank S Morris from Jersey City, New Jersey

It would be helpful if the Jewish concern was made clear. The event happened in fact, and it is a matter of recorded history. I read the commentary posted, and I am still a bit unclear on what exactly is the concern. How would this broadcast cause more hostility or hatred against Jews? What is the particular content of this Opera that is troubling my Semitic brothers?

Jun. 19 2014 08:54 PM
Alonso Alegria from Lima, Peru

"There's something we can learn about the racial politics of the situation that could be approached [...]" RACIAL politics? As in "the jewish RACE"? Oh, please...

Jun. 19 2014 08:28 PM
Bruce Bryant-Scott from Victoria, BC

The woman who wrote the words - Alice Goodman - had this to say just prior to the ENO staging: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jan/29/alice-goodman-death-klinghoffer-interview .

It is impossible to justify the kind of evil that is portrayed in "Death of Klinghoffer" and I do not think Goodman even tries. Instead, she allows the terrorists to speak for themselves, and we can see and hear both the attraction and emptiness of those justifications. The death of Klinghoffer is, as the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas might describe it, "useless suffering" - there is nothing redemptive about it, and nothing was accomplished in killing this defenseless man. But this kind of evil is a reality in our world, and needs to be considered in all its appalling complexity. For this reason "The Death of Klinghoffer" is worth seeing, hearing, and being provoked by. This is not a pretty opera - it's probably one of the hardest I've ever heard; one could not call it "entertainment". But it is a brilliant piece of poetry accompanied by equally brilliant music, and I was looking forward to seeing it on the global HD, and now I won't.

Jun. 19 2014 07:45 PM
Joan from New York

Stephen: Did you see the opera? My guess is that 99% of the people commenting have not. I saw it at BAM when it first premiered in NYC. There is nothing romantic about it. Nor is it anti-semitic. It is heart-breaking like most of the operas you mention.

Jun. 19 2014 07:30 PM
wcutter

I think the Anti Defamation League missed an opportunity to gain credibility. the note in the NYTIMES this morning indicated that Abe Foxman, its chief executive, had not seen nor read the opera, and yet agree with the decision to scuttle the simulcast. The better thing to do--when part of a public is up in arms--is to seize the opportunity for some education--education about what the opera is; how we make judgments about aesthetic objects and events; and how people distort perceptions based on hear say. I doubt that Mr. Foxman has paid much attention to people in the Jewish intellectual world who have thought long and hard about this and related subjects. I guess I think I am among those. I hope to see the opera in November. (Rabbi_William Cutter, Ph.D. Hebrew Union College)

Jun. 19 2014 07:24 PM
Kat from New jersey

What amazes me most of all is not whether we agree or disagree to cancel this performance, but the fact that Mr. Klinghoffer is even memorialized in this manner. His death was certainly a tragedy of epic proportions, but so are all the other murders of innocent victims of such heinous crimes whose bodies sometimes are never even found. Please..let's keep ethnic politics off the opera stage so we can continue to enjoy this venue without dissension. Rest in peace Mr. Klinghoffer.

Jun. 19 2014 07:23 PM
Susan Marx from Orange, NJ

Dear Mr. Gelb,

I am writing you again.

I heard on the news today that the Live in HD performances of The Death of Klinghoffer has been cancelled. Thank you.

But what about the regular performances at the Metropolitan Opera in the opera house? Why should opera loving people in New York and the metropolitan New York area, and visitors to New York be subject to this anti-Semitic opera?

This opera must be removed from the Met's schedule completely. Presenting this opera is just the wrong thing to do.

Sincerely,

Susan Marx
Orange, New Jersey


-----Original Message-----
From:
To: pgelb <pgelb@metopera.org>
Sent: Sun, Jun 15, 2014 12:14 am
Subject: The Death of Klinghoffer

Dear Mr. Gelb,
I am appalled that The Metropolitan Opera has chosen to perform John Adams' “The Death of Klinghoffer” and, worse, to simulcast it at 2,000 theaters in 66 countries where it can reach hundreds of thousands of people with its bigoted messages.
The opera justifies terrorism by romanticizing the Palestinian terrorists who hijacked the Achilles Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and murdered the wheel-chair bound Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer. It distorts the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and is marked by anti-Israel propaganda, misinformation, and anti-Semitic canards that are never challenged in the libretto. This is not simply a "thought-provoking work on a controversial topic" any more than a work would be that sympathetically portrays and/or justifies those who lynched an African-American.
This opera spreads anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views, and draws appalling moral equivalencies. We urge you to cancel the performances or, at a minimum, cancel the plans for simulcasting the opera.
Sincerely,

Jun. 19 2014 07:20 PM
Stephen Victor from Pennsylvania

Not only the broadcast, but the entire production should be cancelled. It was terrible judgement on the part of the administration of the Metropolitan Opera to put this on in the first place. A city that has seen almost 3000 American citizens murdered on 9/11 does not need to see terrorism romanticized.
La Boheme does not romanticize the tubercle bacillus. Andrea Chenier does not romanticize the perpetrators of the French Reign of Terror. Tosca does not romanticize police brutality. The purpose of art is not to bring ugliness into the world. Leon Klinghoffer was an innocent,disabled American whose family will only be made to suffer pain by enduring a work that is sympathetic to his murderers.

Jun. 19 2014 07:11 PM
Jane from New Jersey

Last year's Met "Fledermaus," which gratuitously turned the philandering Gabriel VON Eisenstein into a Jew (he refers to the "goyim, hangs Klimt on his walls and has a menorah next to the Christmas tree) and not only that, but a Jew who dines on pig's head, was unsettling enough. Two swallows do not a summer make, but we don't need Klinghoffer.

Jun. 19 2014 06:55 PM
Dr. J. Taylor Basker from Amman, Jordan

As an American, with Jewish family both in the US and in Israel, I am appalled by this decision to censor opera due to misguided Jewish pressure groups. Having lived and worked in the Middle East, for nearly 7 years, I am well aware that Israel has done a splendid job of censoring news about the abuses and violence of their military occupation of Palestine, preventing both Israelis and American Jews from knowing what is going on in their name. Extremists try to erase any hint of their injustice towards Palestinians, and obliterate both its people and culture that existed there for thousands of years. I am ashamed that another Apartheid Wall rises, separating lovers of opera from viewing Adams' masterpiece. Ironically, it is actions like this that fuels anti-semitism, always lurking beneath the surface in western culture. Good job ADL - your actions continue to endanger and marginalize Jews globally.

Jun. 19 2014 06:49 PM
ROBERT M from N Y,NY ues

Art can, and should from time to time, hurt. This opera hurt the survivors of the Klinghoffer murder for which Adams, the mentch that he is, apologized. But it should be staged. I'm looking forward to plunking down $250 for good seats.
The last opera I saw at the Met was Il Trovedore. I hope the Rom people are sufficiently p--sed off about it and Carmen, to boot.

Jun. 19 2014 06:47 PM
Kevin from Manhattan

There's a reason Miller wrote a play about the Puritans rather than the HUAC, and this is it.

Jun. 19 2014 06:37 PM
Bernie from UWS

How is it tasteless? Many great operas were based on real-life characters. Verdi portrayed villainous leaders - and their victims - all of the time. Shostakovich and Berg did the same. To think that opera exists in some pretty bubble where no challenging ideas are expressed is ridiculous.

Jun. 19 2014 06:19 PM
Nial

I venture a guess it was cancelled to sooth Muslim sensibilities. The murder of a defenseless man by Islamic terrorists ....who's reputation would that tarnish?

Jun. 19 2014 06:14 PM
GRF from MA

This opera contains disgusting moral equivalency as perceived by the composer. He thinks the Jews are wrong to be in Israel because that is the accepted wisdom from Arab public relations and is accepted by the left which thinks everyone else but the Jews can be nationalistic,in effect, having the one and only Jewish state in the land that has always been Jewish. There are no Jewish communities anymore in all the Muslim countries where Jews have be excised since the Muslim states started a war of convenience against the newly established state of Israel in 1948, Since Klinghoffer was a Jew, it was not a bad idea to murder him, disabled and in a wheelchair, no less. Who thinks like this? A morally depraved person is who thinks like this and the ones who murdered Klinghoffer because he was Jewish. How accepted would it be if terroristic Israelis threw a disabled Arab in a wheelchair off a boat? He was murdered and that should be in the title rather than "The Death of…"

Jun. 19 2014 06:14 PM
George Murphy from Neptune City, NJ

Graphic and tasteless. Not what I would consider opera with propriety. It should be based solely upon the judgment of the surviving family members.

Some art begins with the letter "f" ...

Jun. 19 2014 06:13 PM
Michael Meltzer

Benefactors do not endow you because they "admire your principles." They endow you because you make them feel good about doing it. There is no question that the Met received feedback giving cause for serious fiscal concern and in the current economic climate, principle and prudence may have to go their separate ways.

Jun. 19 2014 06:08 PM
Glenn Howard from NY

I suppose next the Shakespeare Festival will not broadcast Merchant of Venice. And perhaps the play "Tis a pity she's a whore" dealing with a social issue will be canned as well.

And what about Othello?

Sort of like banning Catcher in the Rye I think. Now we want to see or hear it.

Jun. 19 2014 06:03 PM
Scott Rose from Manhattan

The real problem with the Adams/Goodman opera is that it uses a fictionalized version of a real-life murder victim who has surviving loved ones, and it was developed without input from those survivors.

Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer's daughters have been endlessly gaslighted by librettist Alice Goodman and composer John Adams.

They both should stop doing that immediately.

They should acknowledge the Klinghoffers' daughters' pain, and apologize for exacerbating it.

It's common human decency.

Jun. 19 2014 06:00 PM

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