Conductor quits Israel Opera over refusal to mourn Paris dead

The French conductor Frédéric Chaslin, music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, pulled out of last night’s performance of La Rondine in Tel Aviv after the company management refused to let him speak in memory of the victims of the Paris massacres.

Chaslin said he had intended to speak for thirty seconds and perform the national anthem, Hatikvah.

He had been dened that right on the grounds that ‘It would upset our audience’ and ‘It is against the management”s policies’. So he walked out.

He tells Slipped Disc: ‘The Tel Aviv Opera did not allow me to speak 30 seconds yesterday at the opera in homage to my French friends and citizens, including the 5 victims of the kasher store.’

Haaretz newspaper (in Hebrew) front-pages the story this morning.

Chaslin is quite right to be angry. This is not a major diplomatic incident, but a petty, stupid act of insensitivity and mismanagement at a company that veers from the despotic to the chaotic. Israel Opera desperately needs a change at the top.

Chaslin is conducting a homage to the victims with his own orchestra today.

charlie. israel opera




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  • Maestro Chaslain”s fiery temper is well known in opera circles. However, since Ms. Muniz has brought the company to an international level and is more than well respected in opera circles, she was quite right in not acknowledging the French massacre with a 30 second speech and Hatikvoh in this case, since it is not done in the case of the multitude of murdered and sacrificed Israeli’s. If Chasalin were conducting at the MET, San Francisco, Chicago, or even Paris he would probably not request the same action. And there are plenty of Jews in those cities.

  • The point that the same mourning is not done in the memory of Israelis that die in terroristic acts may be valid here, though I don’t see why this fact should forbid a mourning for any specific person(s).

    But the fact that Ms. Muniz has gained good professional reputation does not make any licence for all of her actions in future and didn’t serve as a proof of her right.

  • Very sad that so soon after the killings in France intolerance and insensitivity have once again reared their ugly heads. I would have expected more understanding.

      • If it isn’t intolerant to deny a conductor the right to address the audience, I don’t know what is.

        • It’s not “intolerant.” It’s not good, perhaps, but it has nothing to do with tolerance. Words have meanings.

          • Bravo. Words have meaning, indeed. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t used for what they mean, but for their “emotional” value, as insult and/or praise only.

  • Truly a symbol of sympathy, but really, since when is Maestro Chaslin an important enough figure to use his gig with the Israeli Opera to express his Mitleid for his fellow Jewish Frenchmen. I am sorry that Hanna Muniz, who is an Israeli citizen and lives in Israel, has been shamed with this negative publicity. It is a miracle that there is Opera in Israel of a certain quality and I support her decision.

    • Maestro Chaslin is known for his fiery temper in opera circles?I had the privilige to work for him and socialize with him when he was music director in Mannheim.Maestro Chaslin is one of the most positive,inspiring,friendly,charming,enthusiastic and fantastic menschs i´ve ever come across,in addition to his well known phenomenal talents as a musician,be it composer,conductor,or pianist.He stands his ground,regarding artistic and humane no go´s,true!But that´s what I expect from any serious musician and human being.I´m totally with him now,and,also,as a fellow jew and musician(albeit not in your league,cher maitre!)I share his sorrow and compassion.

      • I would have thought the very fact of Maestro Chaslin being French was adequate reason for him to be allowed a few remarks that surely reflected what all in the hall were feeling.

        There has been such a proliferation of terrorist acts, and more against Israelis than most, I daresay, that to make an observation every time would just reduce the impact of each. But for some reason this particular outrage — perhaps because of its size and it personal nature — combined with a blatantly anti-semitic act in the kosher bakery apparently done in harness — has caught the imagination of all the world. Israel’s Prime Minister has seen fit to go to Paris to participate in a march. I find it a little nasty that a Tel Aviv opera company seems to have shrugged off what the rest of the world is publicly mourning.

  • “It would upset our audience” – not very likely! The opposite, in fact, would have been the result with people on their feet, applauding, maybe even singing the French anthem. This kind of excuse can only come from those liberals who made an art out of self-censorship. Think about it: WHAT people would have been offended?

      • I am not the person to answer why it would “upset our audience” (see article) as I didn’t say it but I will answer this: “intolerance and insensitivity have once again reared their ugly heads. I would have expected more understanding” – See more at:
        Using buzz words to make people FEEL guilty is why we are in this mess in the first place. “Oh, I am not a racist or intolerant” to the extent of importing mass HOSTILE elements into one’s country and being surprised when they actually mean what they say, protected by freedom of speech in Western countries: “kill and behead those who insult OUR religion”.
        France’s problems started more than 30 years ago with putting out a red carpet for Khomeni. What happened over the past week is just the result of misplaced tolerance: “oh, let’s not upset anyone because we are so nice”. NOT we are proud of our culture and values, while defending them in word and deed, thereby making it safe for our children and theirs to enjoy hard bought freedom, not puddle-jumping self-censorship because we don’t want to offend anyone.
        The anti-Islamist demonstrations in Germany were softened by Merkel’s: “oh we really don’t mean it as we welcome diversity”. It’s amazing she had temporary amnesia, being unable of connecting the dots of suicidal cultural and religious appeasement with the outrages she was marching against a week later.
        This kind of tolerance and sensitivity is just a softening of the brain and negation of what used to be called integrity.

      • An important point here, made by James above, is consistency. If the Opera in recent past reacted to many terrorist acts against Israelis in a way that is similar to the one proposed by this conductor, then their refusal in this case may be, and probably is, unjustified. If however their policy has always been to ignore such tragedies and continue business as usual – as a way of defying terrorists – then their denial of his request makes perfect sense.

      • My comment that appears right above here was placed here inadvertently. It was not meant to be a response to the comments immediately preceding it, but should rather be read and understood as a separate observation.

      • You seem to spend all your time on this site challenging nearly every contribution others make, with the implicit assumption that something is wrong in their choice of words, instead of offering anything substantive yourself. Tolerance, which you seem to believe you are something of an expert on, means allowing others to express themselves in the way they wish.

    • Rubbish,Max,It´s not about politics.It´s about compassion for innocent victims of manslaughter.It´s about innocent victims and the suffering of their loved ones, and paying respect to them.Any decent human being should understand that.It´s got nothing to do with politics.It´s got something to do with respectful,dignified,educated behaviour!

  • It would have appropriate for Maestro Chaslin to have conducted BOTH La Marseillaise and Hatikvah without any commentary preceded by an announcement asking the audience to stand for the two anthems. The music alone would have said more than any words, however well intentioned, could have.

  • I just want to say one thing to Helen Kamioner. She said : “she was quite right in not acknowledging the French massacre with a 30 second speech and Hatikvah in this case, since it is not done in the case of the multitude of murdered and sacrificed Israeli’s”.
    I was in Israel last summer during the war in Gaza. I went to a concert with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Yoel Levi (The Barber of Seville).
    Just before the beginning of the concert, the orchestra played Hatikvah, and all the people has standed up and singed.
    Maybe israeli citizens can tell us what is usually done in such a case ?

    • This argument is losing sight of something. The opera company’s statement made the point that they view NOT interrupting their normal routine in any way, a way to defy the terrorists. They make a point of this. Maestro Chaslin disagrees, and he has a point as well – especially as he is Jewish and French and that evening’s opera was actually about Paris, so indeed it was appropriate (and not that it’s relevant i.m.o, but as a regular at the opera and music director of the Jerusalem Symphony, he is a high-profile musical figure in Israel). Personally, I tend towards Chaslin’s viewpoint – but I don’t think the opera should be accused of intolerance etc. If their statement is to be believed, this is their deeply-held belief in reacting (or not) to terrorists. They also make the point that over may years they have continued giving performances in the midst of rockets and terrorist attacks in their own city. That also demands some respect.

  • Julien: Hatikvah is the Israeli National Anthem, and is a song of hope. It is often sung at public Jewish occasions. Look it up on Wikipedia as it is very, very interesting. More appropriate would have been El male Rachamim: “El malei rachamim” is a funeral prayer used by the Ashkenazi Jewish community. The chazzan recites it, for the ascension of the souls of the dead, during the funeral, going up to the grave of the departed, remembrance days, and other occasions on which the memory of the dead is recalled.

    The prayer has a fixed structure, composed of a specific text in which is incorporated the deceased’s name (in the case of a single person’s commemoration), or a description of the deceased (in the case of the commemoration of a group).

    God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of the Divine Presence, amongst the holy, pure and glorious who shine like the sky, to the soul of —- daughter of —-, for whom prayer was offered in the memory of /hisher soul. Therefore, the Merciful One will protect his/her soul forever, and will merge his/her soul with eternal life. The Everlasting is hisher heritage, and he/she shall rest peacefully at his/her lying place, and let us say: Amen.

    God, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence’s wings, within the range of the holy, pure and glorious, whose shining resemble the sky’s, to the soul of —- son of —-, for a charity was given to the memory of his soul. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect him forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie his soul with the rope of life. The Everlasting is his heritage, and he shall rest peacefully upon his lying place, and let us say: Amen.

    This is the version for a male; for a female the gender must be changed in the appropriate words.

      • Julien: National Anthem = Military Honor. The murders in Paris of French civilians is a whole different scenario. I live in New York, and really don’t know what the proper protocol is, but I do know, that there was no cause to denegate the Israel Opera.

    • One expects that the audience would have known the words to Hatikva and is surely easier to sing than God full of Mercy. My question is why do you stuff your comments with all sorts of irrelevancies? You started with Chaslin allegedly having a fiery temper. Then, there was the miracle of the Israel Opera (yeah, right, if someone can clean up the heavy Slavic accents in any language) that no one is really “denigrating” in your own words, but the decision of its director. But more than that, it is the words in which the decision was expressed: “He had been denied that right on the grounds that ‘It would upset our audience’ and ‘It is against the management’s policies’. So he walked out.” – See more at:
      I repeat, WHO would have been offended in the audience, unless there were some ISIS sympathizers there? It’s goofy to use this as an excuse but liberals do it all the time, which BTW as I mentioned above WHY France and the rest of Europe is in the mess that they created by being reluctant to offend hostile elements that they welcomed to their countries and gave them all social rights.

  • France and Israel mourn victims of Paris shootings
    News AOL
    In Paris, Chopin’s funeral march played and caskets were draped in flags, while in Jerusalem, processions began for the four Jewish victims.

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