The highly controversial and anti-Semitic opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on Monday, October 20, 2014.
It opened on time, as scheduled despite ongoing rallies, protests and petitions to Peter Gelb and the Met directly in an attempt to prevent the play’s production since June 2014 when the Met announced it would be bringing the pro-terrorist John Adams opera to a city traumatized by the massive terror attack of 9-11.
Prior to curtain call, protesters lined the street out front of the met including a “100-Wheelchair Caravan” of protestors, organized by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Watch, who wore signs around their necks which said, “I am Klinghoffer.” A large group of peaceful protesters gathered behind the wheelchair caravan and police lined barricades, carrying signs with slogans such as: “Shame on Peter Gelb & Met Opera,” “Stop the Hate, Defund the Met,” “PLO, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, ISIS all the Same,” and “Klinghoffer Opera= Propaganda Masquerading as Art.”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined the protestors and gave a speech on why he, “an opera fan of some 57 years,” was protesting the Met’s production of “The Death of Klinghoffer.” In that speech he argued “the opera is factually inaccurate and extraordinarily damaging to an appropriate description of the problems in Israel and Palestine, and of terrorism in general … It was not the act of people feeling oppressed,” as the director and librettist tried to imply with the lyrics and musical tones in those scenes. “This was the act of an organized group seeking international recognition, moral equivalency, and money. And it worked!”
The Met’s production of “Death of Klinghoffer” will continue to be staged through mid-November, but the various protesters were not without their victories. Because of pressures placed on Peter Gelb by the Anti-Defamation League the opera will not be part of a worldwide movie theater and audio recording release, according to the New York Times, because the Anti Defamation League argued “these transmissions might be used to fan global anti-Semitism.”
Another example of the New York Met’s General Manager Peter Gelb bowing to protestor pressure was in large part a result of a September 22 rally led by the JCC Watch, 9/11 families and the Jewish Community set a new precedent for any opera ever playing at the Met. For the first time ever, opera goers will read a letter denouncing the program they are about to see. The daughters of the victim murdered in the opera, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer were able to include a letter in the playbill which explained that they have been against the show since they heard it was to be produced in 1991. They said that, “Neither Mr. Adams nor librettist Alice Goodman reached out to us when creating the opera, so we didn’t know what to expect …” The opera was “the exploitation of the murder of our father as a vehicle for political commentary,” they said. “Critical views of Israel permeate the opera, and the staging and props of various productions have only amplified that bias.”
The Klinghoffers wrote they are distressed by each production of the opera but that this production at the Met is among the worst. They wrote, “To have it now produced in New York — in our own backyard — by the country’s most prestigious opera company is incredibly painful.” The opera “presents false moral equivalencies without context and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the senseless murder of an American Jew. The opera rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”
In another acknowledgement of the controversy, the Met added a tag line to the shows banner hanging at and around the Opera house – and in the trailer of the show on the Met’s website – that reads, “See it. Then Decide.”
The website also provided a forum for those who have been to see the production to discuss what they “decided” about it. Reviews are mixed. On opening night the show writer received a standing ovation while other’s heckled and booed throughout the first act. Comments on the forum are equally eschewed. One person who went to see the show wrote they left halfway through the production because they, “could not bear glorification of violence & terrorism … A terrorist singing about birds & flowers while terrorizing innocents was too naive & ridiculous. Evil needs to be faced & not explained away!”
Another, a Jewish Rabbi who went to see it so he could weigh in on local discussion about the show, wrote, “The opera certainly reflects the horror and criminality of the terrorists. It also reveals, through the terrorists' anti-Jewish canards, that anti-Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism.” He added that while it shows the Palestinian’s side of things and rationalizes their thoughts and actions, “It does not provide the case for Israel.” And yet the writer John Adams, the librettist, Peter Gelb and liberal critics alike all praise the show for it’s non-bias. For the human element of both sides and the rationale for all involved.
“Death of Klinghoffer” isn’t alone in its moral equivalence regarding terror – just ask actresses like Kristen Stewart. Moral cowardice dressed up as sophistication is a luxury afforded by the left’s grip on entertainment and the arts. In the real world, in which real terrorists murder wheelchair-bound seniors and fly passenger jets into sky scrapers, we don’t have that luxury.