Metropolitan Opera opening night greeted with ‘Klinghoffer’ protests

Protestors congregated at the Metropolitan Opera's opening night on Monday evening in New York.
Protestors congregated at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night on Monday evening in New York.
(Ben Gabbe / Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Opera rolled out the red carpet on Monday for a contingent of celebrity guests attending the company’s opening night festivities. But the media spotlight was dominated instead by a band of protesters who congregated nearby to air their feelings about the company’s upcoming production of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Protesters gathered close to Lincoln Center in New York on Monday evening, with some wielding signs and posters calling for the cancellation of the upcoming production. There were several hundred protesters, according to the New York Times.

Monday’s performance was of a new production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” The staging of “Klinghoffer” isn’t scheduled to open until Oct. 20.

In June, the Met canceled a cinematic simulcast of “Klinghoffer” planned for November. The cancellation came after discussions with the Anti-Defamation League, and has prompted criticism from a number of cultural groups, who decried the Met’s decision as a form of artistic censorship.


Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, has defended the choice, saying in a statement in June 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.”

At the same time, Gelb said that “I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic.”

Adams said in a statement that the cancellation of the cinematic transmission was “a deeply regrettable decision and goes far beyond issues of ‘artistic freedom,’ and ends in promoting the same kind of intolerance that the opera’s detractors claim to be preventing.”

“Klinghoffer” debuted in 1991 and has never before been performed at the Met. The opera is based on the true story of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, which was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1985. Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish American passenger, was executed by the hijackers and his body was dumped overboard.

Some of the protest signs on Monday read “The Met Opera glorifies terrorism,” and “Opera justifies attacks on America, Israel, Jews.”

The Met’s staging of “Klinghoffer” is a co-production with the English National Opera, which produced the piece in 2012.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT