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Metropolitan Opera cancels 'Klinghoffer' cinema broadcasts

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Metropolitan Opera in New York cancels 'Klinghoffer' cinema broadcasts
Anti-Semitism cited as concern for Metropolitan Opera's cancellation of 'Klinghoffer' broadcast in cinemas

Officials at the Metropolitan Opera in New York have canceled the company's live cinema broadcast of its upcoming production of John Adams' controversial "The Death of Klinghoffer," citing an "outpouring of concern" that the transmission might incite anti-Semitism.

"Klinghoffer" was scheduled for cinema broadcast on Nov. 15. The new production, which was first seen at the English National Opera in 2012, is the New York company's first staging of the piece, which had its world premiere in 1991.

The opera is based on the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists and the subsequent killing of Jewish American passenger Leon Klinghoffer. In the years since it was first seen, the piece has been a political hot potato for its perceived sympathy for the Palestinian terrorist characters.

"Klinghoffer" is still scheduled to open at the Met on Oct. 20. It will be conducted by David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

In a statement released Tuesday, Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, said, "I'm convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic."

But he added that he's "also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of 'The Death of Klinghoffer' would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe."

The Met said the final decision was made after a series of discussions between Gelb and Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, which represented the wishes of Leon Klinghoffer's daughters. 

In a separate statement, the ADL said that Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer "have long held serious objections to the opera's biased portrayal of their father's death and its sympathetic view of his killers."

Foxman said in the ADL's statement that "from our point of view and from that of the Klinghoffer sisters, we would have hoped that the Metropolitan Opera would have stayed away from mounting such a problematic opera."

"Klinghoffer" was originally co-commissioned by several opera companies around the world, including Los Angeles Opera, which has never staged it. 

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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