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Klinghoffer daughters’ protest letter to appear in opera playbill

Paulo Szot as the Captain and Michaela Martens as Marilyn Klinghoffer in "The Death of Klinghoffer" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Paulo Szot as the Captain and Michaela Martens as Marilyn Klinghoffer in “The Death of Klinghoffer” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
(Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)

Just one day before the Metropolitan Opera is set to open the controversial “The Death of Klinghoffer” in New York, the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer have released a letter expressing their opposition.

The opera by John Adams dramatizes the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists and the killing of Jewish-American passenger Klinghoffer. In a statement released Sunday by the Anti-Defamation League, Klinghoffer’s daughters Lisa and Ilsa said the opera “presents false moral equivalencies without context and offers no real insight into the historical reality and senseless murder of an American Jew.”

The full statement from Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer will be featured in the playbill for the Met production, according to the ADL.

“We are strong supporters of the arts, and believe that theater and music can play a critical role in examining and understanding significant world events,” the daughters wrote. “‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ does no such thing.... It rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”

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The family members said they were not consulted and “had no role in the development of the opera.”

“Terrorism cannot be rationalized,” the letter said. “It cannot be understood. It can never be tolerated as a vehicle for political expression or grievance. Unfortunately, ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ does all this, and sullies the memory of a fine, principled, sweet man in the process.”

Earlier this year, after pressure from the ADL, the Met canceled its simulcast of the opera to cinemas around the world. However, Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, has said he is “convinced the opera is not anti-Semitic.”

The opera debuted in 1991 and has never before been performed at the Met. The staging is a co-production with the English National Opera, which produced the piece in 2012.

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