Anti-Met Klinghoffer demo: first pictures

Anti-Met Klinghoffer demo: first pictures


norman lebrecht

September 22, 2014

photo 1

The demonstrators, fewer than 1,000, are chanting ‘shame on the Met’ and similar slogans. They announced their intention to picket the opera every night of the run.

photo 3

UPDATE: The crowd has swelled to more than 1,000, augmented by students in school buses.

photo 4

photos (c) Shawn Milnes/Slipped Disc



  • Sebastian Petit says:

    These people are the enemy of free speech

    • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      Not really. They are excercising their right to free speech. They are just, sadly, misguided and probably deaf & blind as well. Pity them.

      • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

        How sad that the Met has not engaged the public at large well in advance through education, public debates, and other events. I am afraid that this lack of important action reflects the fact that the Met’s General Director has not finished his academic degree. With respect to other skills he has in abundance, intellectual curiosity and competence is, alas, not one of them. Saint Louis Opera has done a marvelous job in this respect, and has, in my view, put New York, and not merely the Met, to shame.

        • MWnyc says:

          The problem is, Edgar, that engaging the public at large well in advance through education, public debates, and other events – and advertising and otherwise publicizing such events – costs money, and the Metropolitan Opera is running deficits already.

    • Paul Shaw says:

      So.. let me get this straight: Everyone is entitled to free speech — except “these people” (the nicest description of the protesters in the comments on this issue in this so-civilized blog!). I don’t recall any of these commenters protesting the demonstrations outside the Met at the opening of last year’s season (about a different issue – look it up) – but then they weren’t Jewish. The issues here include the fact that Leon Klinghoffer was a disabled, wheelchair-bound innocent American Jew – not a parallel at all of the Palestinian terrorists who murdered him, and threw him overboard into the Mediterranean.

      Unless, of course, you believe that all Jews, whoever they are and wherever they live {even if disabled and wheelchair-bound] are fair targets for terrorism, and that there is no such thing as an “innocent” Jew.

      The parallels to other operas and plays lack one perspective — they refer to incidents centuries ago. In contrast, Leon Klinghoffer’s family are very much alive. His two daughters are quoted in this morning’s NYT:”We are strong supporters of the arts, and believe that theater and music can play a critical role in examining and understanding significant world events. The Death of Klinghoffer does no such thing. It presents false moral equivalencies without context, and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the senseless murder of an American Jew. It rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”

      But hey, Prof Pearl doesn’t know what he is talking about (what does he know about terrorism, after all?)… Klinghoffer’s daughters’ are irrelevant … the Met has the absolute right to stage this ( the script has been amended, and the simulcast canceled — why would they do that?) — but no-one has ANY RIGHT to protest it.

      • MWnyc says:

        Thing is, Paul, that neither the Klinghoffer daughters nor Daniel Pearl’s father have actually seen The Death of Klinghoffer.

        I have, and I can assure you that Leon Klinghoffer’s murder is depicted unambiguously as a cruel, unjustified and criminal act.

        No one is saying that protesters don’t have the right, as such, to protest against this opera. Of course they have the right – and the rest of us have the right to criticize them, call them wrongheaded, and even make fun of them. That’s free speech in the United States.

        All that said, you should understand that folks like me get rather irked at these protesters, because they are complaining that The Death of Klinghoffer does something that it simply does not do, and they refuse to accept assurances from people who have seen the work that it does not do what they say it does, and they refuse to see the work for themselves.

        • MWnyc says:

          To give an analogy that might make my point clearer –

          To my mind, Jews demonstrating against The Death of Klinghoffer because it glorifies the murder of an innocent Jew by terrorists is roughly akin to African-Americans demonstrating against To Kill a Mockingbird because it glorifies the conviction of an innocent black man by an all-white jury.

  • Jimmy Odom says:

    Do they realize that the run doesn’t begin until next month? That the opera they are protesting isn’t actually being played tonight?

    • MWnyc says:

      I’m sure they do. But if you want your protest to get media attention, you stage it on opening night of the season. That’s why opening night at La Scala is always a circus.

  • I wonder how many thought they were at the climate change demonstration happening a few blocks away.

  • Dashman says:

    Scheduled for the Metropolitan Opera’s 2015-2016 season are two interesting works: a new opera, “Why Michael Brown Deserved to Die,” and a revival, “Springtime for Hitler.” As the premier opera institution in the US, the Met is an eminently fitting place to present what the General Manager described as “these undoubted works of genius.”

  • David says:

    Interesting that Protesting Tamar Iveri and cancelling her engagements was OK (I see that she’s even out of November’s Opera Australia Tosca), while Jewish groups’ protesting Klinghoffer makes them deaf, blind, and enemies of free speech.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      The unfortunate soprano posted on Facebook, if I remember correctly. Upon which she was fired. Was there a demonstration? Please let me know. In addition, I refuse to see _”The Death of Klinghoffer” only within the narrow confines of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The work is far more encompassing. A shame for New York that nothing was undertaken to rductate the public about Adams’ opera.

    • Dashman says:

      Yes, yes. “Blind” Jews who will not see. Now where have I read that before?

  • UpperWestSider says:

    I saw the premiere of Klinghoffer at BAM years ago, and find this whole controversy disquieting. Accusations have been made that it glorifies terrorism, attacks the state of Israel, and besmirches a family’s name. Sitting at BAM that day, none of this occurred to me. Yes, the composer has given the Palestinian chorus a beautiful melody, as he has to their Israeli neighbors. So what would have satisfied those who want blood? Cartoon characters? This is not the purpose of art or music.

    I saw Carmen as a 4th grader in a live production and was stunned that the leading character was killed onstage. Klinghoffer’s death was—and is—no less stunning in this opera, one which deserves to be heard no matter which side of the issue of statehood one agrees with. I do not know the motivation of the composer of librettist, but this opera made me think.

    • Save The MET says:

      Using Carmen as your foil in this instance makes zero sense and is in fact inane. This opera in many ways glorify’s the death of an incapacitated Jewish American citizen by a group of terrorists. Adams had lots of current events to work from and made a really stupid decision to write this opera. Putting this opera on is completely insensitive to a religious and ehtnic group that has been persecuted throughout time. The librettist of this work is a confused former American Jew, who ran to England to escape her heritage and is now ensconced in the Church of England. She obviously has her own demons and should have turned down the work, as she found after she wrote the libretto that there was little future work for her in the medium.

      This is not a great work at Gelb portends, it is a problematic score, it is a problematic libretto and the subject matter abhorrent IMHO. I speak as one who has seen it, in person. But anything can be called art these days and it is interesting to see the factions who push for the work to be performed, many of those factions are groups with societal problems of their own and would be appalled if a current event involving their situation was put before the public, with humanized tormentors.

      • David says:

        For instance, how about an opera that humanized Tamar Iveri’s homophobic rant?

        How would that go over?

        Anyone have John Adam’s phone number, so I can propose it, with assurances that the Met will stage it?

      • MWnyc says:

        SaveTheMet, can you explain how exactly The Death of Klinghoffer glorifies the murder of Leon Klinghoffer?

        I’ve seen the piece twice, and I simply can’t see where or how the murder of that innocent, disabled Jewish American cruise passenger is glorified or even approved of in any way.

        Unless, of course, you think that just the act of putting such an incident on a stage glorifies it.

        In which case, you should also consider protesting the presence of To Kill a Mockingbird in school curricula because it glorifies the conviction of an innocent black man by an all-white jury.

    • MWnyc says:

      Thank you, UpperWestSider!

  • Herrera says:

    “The crowd has swelled to more than 1,000, augmented by students in school buses.”

    So does opera matter or does it not matter?

    If opera is an irrelevent dying art form for the old and dying, then why are the young and vigorous so worked up about a piece that, apparently, no one cares about anyway?

    It must be that opera remains a potent art form (whether you like the form or not) that touches the human spirit (in a way whether you like it or not) that few if any other art form can do. It is no wonder that cinema, which also marries image to music to drama, is the other such art form.

    So, it’s a good thing that people are protesting. Opera still matters, and will always matter, even for those who never attend a single opera.

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    Latest from Boosey & Hawkes – publishers of John Adams’ work.

  • david litven says:

    I wouldn’t be protesting the antisemitism issue. I’d be protesting the fact that the opera is vastly overrated, and it’s inherent sensationalism is it’s main calling card.