17 June 2014

Metropolitan Opera Cancels Live in HD Simulcast of John Adams's Death of Klinghoffer

The Metropolitan Opera announced today that it has made the decision to cancel the Live in HD transmission of John Adam's The Death of Klinghoffer that had been slated for November 15, 2014, following an outpouring of criticism and concern that the contentious opera might be used to foment global anti-Semitism. 

"I'm convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic," said Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, in a statement issued today. "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." 

Adams' opera, which was devised by director Peter Sellars and features an English-language libretto by Alice Goodman, premiered in Brussels 1991 and received its North American premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music the same year. The work depicts the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, and the murder of an elderly Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Originally commissioned by a consortium of American and European opera companies — including Brussels' La Monnaie, San Francisco Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Los Angeles Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Music — outcry over the work's perceived sympathies towards the Palestinian highjackers dogged the work since its premiere and has resulted in the cancellation of scheduled performances at the Glyndebourne Festival and at Los Angeles Opera. In November 2011, the Boston Symphony Orchestra cancelled a concert that was to have included performances of excerpts of The Death of Klinghoffer. Subsequent to its U.S. premiere at BAM, Klinghoffer has been seen in performance at The Juilliard School, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and at Long Beach Opera. 

According to the statement issued today, the Metropolitan Opera made the decision to cancel the HD simulcast following a series of discussions between Peter Gelb and Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who was representing the wishes of the Klinghoffer family. In deference to the daughters of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer, the Met has agreed to include a message from them both in the company's Playbill and on its website. 

The Met has presented two other operas by Adams, Doctor Atomic (2008) and Nixon in China (2011), and the company says it intends to go forward with its staged presentation of The Death of Klinghoffer, which is scheduled for a run of eight performances from October 20 to November 15. The production, which was first seen at English National Opera in 2012, will be directed by Tom Morris and conducted by David Robertson. spacer

More information can be found at The Metropolitan Opera

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