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    The Metropolitan Cancels Simulcast of "Klinghoffer"; Bows to Censorhip Pressures

    Don't know if any of you followed this story, but it is concerning on multiple levels. A Jewish Man, Leon Klinghoffer, an American citizen was on the Italian cruise ship in 1985 with his wife Marilyn. The ship was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists, and when their demands were not met, the terrorists pushed the wheelchair bound Mr. Klinghoffer into the sea to his death. There were a couple of TV movies made of the tragic events. Paul Adams, an American composer wrote an opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer." It has bee controversial for it's treatment of the Palestinian point of view.

    The Met had scheduled the opera to be staged in NY this coming season, and a live simulcast of one performance at movie theaters around the world (66 countries) as part of its upcoming HD season. The Klinghoffer daughters and the Anti-defamation League protested on the grounds of the content promoting antisemitism. The Met caved, and cancelled the simulcast. (Note: The Met is in financial trouble and wants to renegotiate its union contracts, etc. as per a recent full page ad in the NYT).

    Being in Southern California, I subscribe to the HD series, and am stunned at this decision by the Met. To me it is bowing to censorship, and sets a dangerous precedent.

    Shall we evaluate all art in the US through the prism of a potential adverse reflection on Israel, or that it could be interpreted as antisemitic? Ban the Merchant of Venice, as Shylock is not an admirable character? What of Othello, the Moor? Are Traviata, Figaro, Cinderella, Valkeryie at risk? Schumann....Hitler liked Schumann. The Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold?

    Tellingly, some of the people from the Anti-defamation league who pressured the Met had never seen the production, nor read the libretto.....Have we come to a place where all that is required to quash an artistic work is a statement that something is antisemitic, racist, sexist, antigay.....? Gee, doesn't that sound like condemnation of art by in the Third Reich?
    When condemn and ban art based on presumption and hearsay, we are no better. And then, where are we?

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    Re: The Metropolitan Cancels Simulcast of "Klinghoffer"; Bows to Censorhip Pressures

    ^The composer is John Adams, not Paul.

    The issue concerns me somewhat. I've actually seen the opera, and while it was dreadfully dull (more an oratorio than a plot-driven drama), it in no way struck me as either pro-Palestinian or anti-Semitic. While it does go at some length from the perspective of the terrorists, that does not tacitly condone their actions. It's practically a series of memoirs, not a political tract. Artistic censorship is almost always a dangerous step toward tyranny.

    It's appalling how the Met stepped down on the basis of others' collective ignorance. If anything, they should've offered additional encore showings to capitalize on the succès de scandale. A significant portion of their income is from the Live in HD Series; that's their number one money-maker. It simply could not survive (with its current business model) without it.

    It's disconcerting to see issues like this arise; it has echoes of the Third Reich and the USSR written all over it. Anyone remember Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District? Hm. Eerily similar. One critique and the media ran with it (granted, the review was Stalin's and it was in Pravda, but still). Suddenly the great success became the great no-no. Though there is one thing that's different; The Death of Klinghoffer has never enjoyed great success. Reviews are always mixed and it's frankly boring to most audiences. That makes it all the more absurd. Here's a relatively unpopular opera that's been attacked as if it had had some prominence. Nixon in China is Adam's most popular opera to date, and it's never been lambasted in the media.

    If Klinghoffer is on the political chopping block, then who's to say that a great purge of works deemed "unsuitable" for public consumption isn't in store? If people are so afraid of possible anti-Semitism, they don't have to go. But they have no more right to boo it off the stage either. And to reiterate, the work is patently harmless.
    Last edited by mightbe; June 22nd, 2014 at 07:12 PM.

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    Re: The Metropolitan Cancels Simulcast of "Klinghoffer"; Bows to Censorhip Pressures

    I remember that hijacking from my childhood. It was all over the news at the time.

    The ship was the Achille Lauro.



    They made a TV movie about the incident a few years later. The hijackers were surprised and forced to take the ship earlier than planned. They were able to negotiate a safe passage off the ship.

    I always found it darkly ironic that of all the passengers, the armed militant terrorists felt most threatened by, of all people, a disabled old man in a wheelchair.

    Brief video summary of events:



    Completely off-topic:

    The ship, for all the events that plagued it, somehow stays in my memory, after all these years. Probably because she was Italian, she somehow never lost her sense of elegance and romance.


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    Re: The Metropolitan Cancels Simulcast of "Klinghoffer"; Bows to Censorhip Pressures

    It is one of the dreariest of John Adams works.

    But the MET also knows who pays their bills.
    Last edited by rareboy; June 23rd, 2014 at 05:05 AM.

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