Cher Public

Death of “Klinghoffer”

Bowing to pressure from “the Anti-Defamation League, representing the wishes of the Klinghoffer daughters,” the Met has canceled its scheduled HD telecast of The Death of Klinghoffer next season. A press release follows the jump.

The Metropolitan Opera to cancel its Live in HD transmission of

John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer scheduled for this fall

New York, NY (June 17, 2014) – After an outpouring of concern that its plans to transmit John Adams’s opera The Death of Klinghoffer might be used to fan global anti-Semitism, the Metropolitan Opera announced the decision today to cancel its Live in HD transmission, scheduled for November 15, 2014. The opera, which premiered in 1991, is about the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and the murder of one of its Jewish passengers, Leon Klinghoffer, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.

“I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” said the Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb. “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 final decision was made after a series of discussions between Mr. Gelb and Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, representing the wishes of the Klinghoffer daughters.

In recent seasons, the Metropolitan Opera has championed contemporary operatic masterpieces as part of its ongoing efforts to keep opera artistically current. Previously, the Met has presented John Adams’s other two major operas, Doctor Atomic (in 2008) and Nixon in China (in 2011). “John Adams is one of America’s greatest composers and The Death of Klinghoffer is one of his greatest works,” said Gelb. The Met will go forward with its stage presentation of The Death of Klinghoffer in its scheduled run of eight performances from October 20 to November 15. In deference to the daughters of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer, the Met has agreed to include a message from them both in the Met’s Playbill and on its website.

In recent years, The Death of Klinghoffer has been presented without incident at The Juilliard School (2009), the Opera Theatre of St. Louis (2011), and as recently as this March 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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  • peter

    The NY Times article said that there will be a substitute opera in HD next season to replace Klinghoffer. It would be nice if they did Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk but I kind of doubt it.

    • I’d vote for von Einem’s DER BESUCH DER ALTEN DAME.

  • norma54

    Really, the only possibilities are LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK on Nov. 29 or RAKE’S PROGRESS on May 9. Most everything else has been shown recently.

    • Salome Where She Danced

      Gelb has to get the OK from the Russian Embassy and Putin first (LMoM portrays Russians as drunken buffoons, sadists, sexually promiscuous, and suicidal hysterics) and various advocacy groups for the mentally ill for RP. That could be tricky. . .

    • If Westbroek’s Lady M. ends up as the substitute, that would be silver lining indeed. But I’m personally very disappointed not to be seeing Klinghoffer.

  • olliedawg

    It’s been nearly 30 years since Mr. Klinghoffer’s death, and his daughters and their “friends” still continue to threaten and intimidate anyone who would dare present any depiction of those terrible events. There has to be more to this story than meets the eye, as in: physical intimidation, threats of financial divestment, etc. but, I, too, am Jewish, and am tired of loudmouths from the “pro-Israel/true-Jew” promulgating their agenda in both the political and, now, cultural zeitgeist.

    • Dagney

      May I ask why a man murdered by terrorists must be used as a vehicle to promote “Palestinian” perspective? I’m sorry, but that shouldn’t be considered polite or necessary, Jewish or not. It seems the cultural zeitgeist in NYC claims that all consideration for victims of violence and their families is passe and demands that the real pain of these people is grist for the dramatic mill. I guess I’m too much of a cretin to appreciate the “art” of exploitation.

  • OpinionatedNeophyte

    Been reading up a bit on the opera and the so-called controversy. I mean..this is what Zionism has always been. ionism requires the total evacuation of any depictions of Palestinian grievances from the public sphere. The evidence of Isreali wrongdoing towards Palestinians is so overwhelming, that the only option Zionists have is the strict regulation of the American public, political and cultural spheres. And the very notion that Palestinian subjects might have historical grievances operates in diametric opposition to the rationale for Israel’s existence. *shrug* I mean Israel restricts the Palestinians access to frickin water, why on earth would be surprised that Zionism would restrict our access to culture it doesn’t like.

    • oedipe

      We need a final solution for Israel. Fast!

      • jackoh

        That is a totally unnecessary and, may I say, offensive comment. But it reflects the mindset of those who take the position that if you are not in lockstep accord with the policies of the Israeli government or do not wholeheartedly support those policies from afar that you are in the camp of those who wish the destruction of the Jewish people. This is nothing but political manipulation of the basest sort, and it is well understood.

        • oedipe

          Offensive comment? To whom and in what way? Not you, I don’t think.

          • jackoh

            Offensive to those(of us) for whom the term that you used has real and visceral meaning and is not just some glib debaters point to be thrown around.

            • oedipe

              The meaning of things, what’s real and visceral? YMMV. Ask OpinionatedNeophyte about it.

          • You are right on the edge of going on moderation, oedipe. The choice is yours.

            • oedipe

              I dislike all forms of censorship. But it’s up to you, not me, obviously.

            • manou

              Maybe some others here should go on moderation for immoderation.

      • bluecabochon

        Good Lord, that is not a comment that I ever expected to read on Parterre.


      • Cicciabella

        Oedipe, I am very disappointed that you would use that phrase, and in this thread. Please strongly consider never to do so again. I make a point of never using it, even in contexts which aren’t even remotely connected to the reverberating horror it invokes.

  • armerjacquino
    • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

      An excellent read, AJ! Thank you. I had forgotten the DVD provides the bonus of Adams conducting his own work (Kent Nagano conducts the Nonesuch audio recording).

  • The subject of “The Death of Klinghoffer” is terrible enough on its own. The circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the HD broadcast are still more depressing.

    So, a few videos to offer a bit of hope….

    The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra:

    Excerpts from Steve Reich’s “The Cave”

    Kayhan Kalhor is an outstanding Iranian kemancheh player who has engaged in a wide variety of novel projects with an international collection of collaborative artists.

    A news account of Kayhan Kalhor’s “Symphony for Palestine” can be found here. In the words of Palestinian deputy information minister Mahmud Khalifa,
    “These concerts are important because they project a better image of Palestinians to the world, showing that it’s not just war and intifada here.”

  • Batty Masetto

    The Death of Klinghoffer DVD is temporarily sold out at; 9 to 10 day wait for shipment. Still available from sources in the UK, but that will be UK region of course.

    The ADL may have done the work a favor. (One hopes.)

    • Porgy Amor

      but that will be UK region of course.

      Possibly not. It’s always wise to look at the product information and make sure, but many (most?) of the newer opera DVDs are NTSC/Region 0 for worldwide playback. I got the Stein/Pappano Don Carlo from Presto Classical, a UK vendor, because it was released there about a month earlier than in North America, and it NTSC/R-0. They list Death of Klinghoffer that way as well.

      • Batty Masetto

        The Klinghoffers we saw that were available were UK format, Porgy. We thought it was odd because the publisher (Decca, isn’t it?) usually issues these things in All Region format.

        We can play UK format but it’s less convenient, so we’re waiting for Amazon to deliver.

        • Porgy Amor

          Ah, okay. Well, Presto Classical claims to be selling an all-regions disc, and they have been reliable in my experience, but I understand preferring to wait. Sometimes I think the Amazon third-party sellers from the UK just have that about PAL on everything they sell, whether it’s the case or not.

        • armerjacquino

          For information, nearly every DVD player is hackable to make it all-region. Just google your model.

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        I just looked at the back of the DVD box of the Decca “Klinghoffer” -- region code is listed at 0, NTSC.

  • cognoscenti
    • Operatunity

      In October, 1985 arts critic Norman Lebrecht was in Rome when the passengers who survived the Achille Lauro massacre were bussed into the City of Rome. Lebrecht reported that he saw the survivors. Lebrecht’s reflections about the incident, the Death of Klinghoffer’s operatic history, and the planned 2012 showing of production at the ENO were included in the following article: “Artistic licence -- or did they hijack the truth?”

      As a substitute HD transmission is needed by the Met, I nominate Sting’s production, “The Last Ship.” It’s doing well in Chicago and scheduled to be docked on Broadway during the same time as the Met’s run of The Achille Lauro/ i.e, “Death of Klinghoffer.” Here’s the PBS link to “The Last Ship”:

      • This is the same Norman Lebrecht who had one of his books pulped his publishers because it was actionably inaccurate? That Norman Lebrecht?

  • florezrocks

    My thoughts, for what they are worth, in Huffington Post.

    • grimoaldo

      Congratulations on a well-written and well-argued article Adam and for getting it published on such a high profile site as HuffPo. I don’t agree with you that it was right of Gelb to cancel the HD of “Klinghoffer” though. Anyone can buy a CD or DVD of the work if they are interested, it doesn’t come with a ticket to seminars or interfaith initiatives.