Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

N.Y. Met Cancels Broadcast of ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’

The New York Metropolitan opera made this decision after receiving criticism that the story glorifies anti-Semitism

By: Peter Herriman

Published: June 18th, 2014 in Culture » Stage » News

On Tuesday, The New York Metropolitan Opera announced that it had canceled plans to broadcast the opera “The Death of Klinghoffer,” following an outpouring of strong criticism that the opera glorifies murder and could fan global anti-Semitism.The play deals with the death of an American Jew at the hands of Palestinian militants.

The opera was written by John Adams and explores the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian militants and the murder of one of its Jewish passengers, Leon Klinghoffer. Originally, the opera was scheduled to be broadcast live in HD on November 15 this year.

Met General Manager, Peter Gelb, was quoted as saying by operaworld.com that “I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” however because of the criticism Gelb is also “convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.” The final decision was made after a series of discussions between Gelb and the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman, representing the wishes of the Klinghoffer daughters.

In addition to canceling the broadcast, which would have significantly expanded the production’s reach into more than 2,000 theaters in 66 countries, the Met has agreed to include a statement from Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer in the printed program during the opera’s scheduled run of eight performances in October and November 2014. The statement will read “‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to romanticize, rationalize, legitimize and explain it,” and “The political approach of the composer and librettist is evident with the opera’s disingenuous and dangerous juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded, terrorist murder of an innocent disabled American Jew.”

Even though the Met has pulled the opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer” has been presented without incident at The Julliard School (2009,) the Opera Theatre of St. Louis (2011,) and in Long Beach, California. The Met’s new production was first seen in London at the English National Opera in 2012, and received widespread critical acclaim.

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