Met ditches “Klinghoffer” simulcast due to political pressure

Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm
Peter Gelb

Peter Gelb

The Metropolitan Opera announced on Tuesday that it will cancel the scheduled “Live in HD” simulcast of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, part of the company’s 2014-15 season, as a result of pressure from the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish advocacy groups. Adams’s 1991 opera is based on the 1985 hijacking of the passanger ship Achille Lauro by the Palestinian Liberation Front, in which Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger, was murdered.

Klinghoffer’s daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, said in a statement that the opera “perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to romanticize, rationalize, legitimize and explain it. 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.”

Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb said in a press release “I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic. But I’ve also become 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 Anti-Defamation League welcomed the Met’s decision, saying “while the opera itself is not anti-Semitic, there is a concern the opera could be used in foreign countries as a means to stir up anti-Israel sentiments or as a vehicle to promote anti-Semitism.”

The Death of Klinghoffer opens October 20 and its eight performances will proceed as scheduled, with a statement from the Klinghoffer sisters included in the program booklets.

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