Protests at “Klinghoffer” premiere at Metropolitan Opera

Posted on: October 21, 2014

“Political figures, including former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, joined a rally, several hundred strong at Lincoln Center, to denounce an opera that has become the object of a charged debate about art, anti-Semitism and politics,” reports Michael Cooper in Tuesday’s (10/21) New York Times about Monday’s Metropolitan Opera performance of composer John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer. “But after months of escalating protests, including threats of opera officials and online harassment of the cast, ‘Klinghoffer’ finally went on.… There were cheers when David Robertson, the conductor, arrived in the pit and a few boos after the opening ‘Chorus of Exiled Palestinians’ ended.… ‘Klinghoffer,’ considered a masterpiece by some critics, has long aroused passions, simply because of its subject matter: the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jewish passenger in a wheelchair, by members of the Palestine Liberation Front during the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship.… Some people held a counterdemonstration. James Saslow, 66, a professor of theater history at Queens College, had a sign: ‘A work of art about a subject is not a work in favor of that subject.’ The opera, and the Met, were also defended by some artistic figures. ‘It is not only permissible for the Met to do this piece—it’s required for the Met to do the piece,’ Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater, said.”

Read Alex Ross’s consideration of the role of politics in art in the current issue of Symphony magazine.

Posted October 21, 2014

Pictured: Protesters outside the Metropolitan Opera House on Monday night. Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times