June 20, 2014

EVE EPSTEIN: The Met’s Staging of Klinghoffer Should Be Scrapped.

Operas often involve a dramatic death in the final act. But the real-life, cold-blooded murder of a disabled Jewish man should not serve as an evening’s entertainment for the New York glitterati.

The events of 1985 are hard to forget. PLO hijackers seized the Mediterranean cruise ship Achille Lauro and held hundreds of passengers hostage. Among them was 69 year old, wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer. He was separated from the others, shot in the head and chest, and thrown overboard along with his wheelchair.

This season, Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb intends to stage “the first-ever Met performances” of John Adams’ shock-jock modern opera, The Death of Klinghoffer.

Conflating the deliberate murder of an American citizen with the plight of the Palestinian people was bound to create controversy. But composer John Adams says he didn’t write Klinghoffer to be controversial.

I suppose, then, that he’s not very bright. I wonder who’s out there working on a Matthew Shepard libretto?

UPDATE: From the comments:

Nonsense. I actually saw the opera at BAM twenty years ago, and read the libretto. (The opera was written well before 9/11.) You can cherry-pick lines from the “Exiled Palestinians” and the terrorist murderers (which is what the opera calls them, BTW) to distort the truth, but aren’t you merely adopting the left’s tactics? The opera uses the dramatic tension between the Palestinians and the Jews to build the plot, and the terrorist murderers don’t like Jews, and are given nasty things to say about them (is anyone surprised?) IN AN OPERA.

This is NOT anti-Semitic propaganda, and it’s not Jew-baiting. The Jewish perspective is powerfully presented, Klinghoffer is a hero who denounces his murderers publicly, and the suffering and grief of Klinghoffer’s widow are movingly depicted.

Well, that’s certainly not what I’ve read, but it wouldn’t be the first time the press got it wrong.