Klinghoffer at the Met: The demonstrations backfire

Klinghoffer at the Met: The demonstrations backfire


norman lebrecht

October 21, 2014

This report, exclusive to Slipped Disc, comes from a regular Met-goer and former New York Times writer:

kling protest 3



The extraordinarily vocal demonstrators guaranteed that the Metropolitan premiere of THE DEATH OF KLINGHOFFER would be a success. Most in attendance were so appalled by the uneducated and irrational brouhaha, they were revved to show their support for the Met, the composer and the performers. Conductor David Robertson never received the kind of frenzied ovation he got just for coming out.

And that’s the way it was all evening: a politicized occasion that backfired for the supposed righteous. And at the end, the person receiving the most applause was John Adams.

To cut to the chase, KLINGHOFFER is no more anti-semitic than THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. Even Rudolph Guiliani who spoke this evening to the demonstrators was oddly rational about the piece now that he had heard it.

Nor, I am sad to report, is it on a level with Adams’ NIXON IN CHINA and DOCTOR ATOMIC. It is strangely unoperatic, more of an oratorio.  There are some lovely moments, and no one makes a racket more excitingly than Adams, but there are arid patches and very little sense of drama.

The performers were terrific, whether sympathetic, like the Klinghoffers and the captain, or terrifying like the terrorists. I found the production, which uses projections throughout to be drab and uninteresting.

The Met’s brilliant advertising campaign: “see it and you decide” says it all. There is no way this opera can be seen as anti-semitic. Misguided maybe, but not in any way racist.

Another correspondent tells us:

There was one successful disruption (during the performance) last night.  Someone shouting “the murder of Klinghoffer will never be forgiven” repeatedly in a break in the action during Act One. 


  • Has been says:

    Agree with your ‘inside source’. The so called demonstrators continually referenced the holocaust, Kristallnacht and antisemitism so as to show their ignorance and seemingly unaware that they were trivialising one of histories truly traumatic episodes. I guess as one Israeli prime minister said, ‘There is no business like shoabusiness’ and the speakers all seemed to be looking for their appearances to get them on the ubiquitous American talk shows.

  • Mike Metrick says:

    How tolerant would the writer be if an opera were staged depicting the motivations of James Earl Ray called, “The Death of Dr. King”?

  • Michael Shapiro says:

    it ain’t Fidelio, folks.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Unless you stage it in a prison in Israel where hundreds of Palestinians are held, or a Palestine refugee camp (or Gaza) controlled by hardline Islamists. Better yet: depict the people who are the victims of the obstinacy of BOTH Israeli and Arab/Palestinian hardliners. Plenty around of them, on either side of The Wall. Why not stage Fidelio with refugees, just as Syrian refugees did Cosi in Germany recently? Such a Fidelio would be thrilling, to say the least.