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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Leon Klinghoffer's Daughters Respond to Metropolitan Opera, John Adams' 'Death of Klinghoffer'

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Oct 25, 2014 06:28 PM EDT

The Metropolitan Opera's new production of The Death of Klinghoffer, drew not only theater enthusiasts but a swarm of angry protesters, as well. The controversial performance, penned by minimalist composer John Adams, portrays the death of Leon Klinghoffer--a 69-year-old, wheelchair-bound Jewish American--by Palestinian hijackers while aboard a cruise with his wife in October 1985.

The opera has been the subject of a heated debate, with many claiming the piece to be anti-Semitic, displaying overly sympathetic Palestinian characters with seemingly greedy Jewish counterparts.

The protest heated up when former Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined the rallying, much to the chagrin of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"The former mayor had a history of challenging cultural institutions when he disagreed with their contents," de Blasio said.

Blaz: "I don't think that's the American way!"

Of course, Giuliani wasn't the only power player to attend the protest.

Ex-Governor David Patterson and U.S. Representatives Peter King and Carolyn Maloney also joined in at Lincoln Center, where many were singing the American and Israeli nation anthems, along with a Jewish hymn.

The Met has responded to the negative reviews, which include threats of violence, by agreeing to not broadcast the opera over radio.

However, for some, that is not enough. Klinghoffer's two daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, who saw the opera when it was first debuted in 1991, have included a statement in the Met's program notes.

Read below for both of their comments (and one from Klinghoffer's composer, John Adams).

Curiously absent is any word from the opera's librettist, Alice Goodman...

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

Both have refused to attend the Met opening.

Amid all the criticism and controversy, the show's premiere still ended with a roaring applause and standing ovation and will continue to run through November 15.

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TagsMetropolitan Opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, John Adams

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