Like many ordinary people I have a blog. Per google analytics most of the people who come here on any given day come to find out how to get cheap tickets for the Met, and/or to read my take on some opera I’ve seen – even though I am a musical ignoramus. So maybe some of my subscribers might be wondering why I haven’t said anything about the brouhaha regarding the The Death of Klinghoffer at the Metropolitan Opera. I haven’t said much because too much was being said, and my own feelings were so muddled, I didn’t know where to start.
I just read a thoughtful piece up on the Guardian website. I strongly recommend you go there now. They took four regular New Yorkers to the premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer and each one wrote his or her response. They each did a wonderful job of representing. It got me thinking. I was not there last night, although God knows I could have been. There were more than usual number of unsold tickets – even for the cheap seats. I have never seen any production of the piece. I have not heard it either, but I’ve read a lot about it. Reading the Guardian, immediately got my juices going and I wrote a comment. You can read my comment there, as well.
Reading their panel’s views, helped me put mine in perspective. If you don’t read through all the comments to find mine, here it is in a nutshell:
I look at a picture of Leon Klinghoffer, and I see my father, who like him was a smart, New York Jew, a son of immigrants and someone who worked his way to a certain point. I hear their story — a final voyage with his terminally ill wife who would die months later from the illness that killed my father, and it makes me terribly sad. Aside from every thing else, the Klinghoffer daughters object to this opera. They don’t want their father remembered as a symbol of something — just what isn’t entirely clear. One of the Guardian viewers said the opera was about the competing narratives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If that’s the case, it’s offensive to both Palestinians — represented by terrorists who would execute a disabled, old man and throw his body off a boat (and then say his wife did it) AND also to American Jews. Whatever the Klinghoffers’ may or may not have felt about Israel, they weren’t Israelis. They weren’t the Holocaust victims rising to form the modern Israel depicted in the opera’s chorus. They were New Yorkers and they became victims of a terrorist attack. I don’t want to see them victimized again for “art.”
Here’s what it comes down to: “[T]he juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded murder of an innocent disabled American Jew is both historically naive and appalling,” — from the initial statement by the Klinghoffer daughters on seeing the piece.