Throughout this evening, I have been keeping a watchful eye on the NY Times Arts twitter feed. They are live, covering one of the most controversial arts debates in the country right now;
The Opening Night of the Metropolitan Opera’s The Death of Klinghoffer.
Using their well-known journalism prowess, since the sun has gone down, NYT has been tweeting pictures and re-tweeting from an “inside man” who is in the theatre. We are getting shots of the program notes, views from who is speaking at the protests, and hyper specific reports about how the audience members are taking the show.
Not a whole lot about the show itself.
Quick Recap: The Death of Klinghoffer is an opera written by John Adams (Nixon in China) with a libretto by Alice Goodman It is an operatic adaptation about the hijacking of a Cruise Line in the Mediterranean by Palestinian terrorists who execute an older Jewish passenger named Leon Klinghoffer, who is thrown overboard. Since its premiere over 20 years ago, the piece has been a source for controversy for being both Anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist. However, the composing team has stated on multiple occasions that they had no intention of doing so, and that they were merely attempting to incorporate different views in juxtaposition of each other.
There is much conversation to be had on this matter, and throughout all of this, It occurred to me that I know nothing about The Death of Klinghoffer directly. I have not seen a production, I have not listened to a note of the show, haven’t heard a single word of the libretto. Haven’t seen a production photo, nor could I tell you a single person other than the composer/or lyricist who has been involved with the production. Everything I know about the show is spun out of someone else’s opinion, based on one single question; is the piece offensive? Some say it is extremely Anti-Semitic, the composer says he tried to incorporate multiple political viewpoints.
And after all the debate, controversy and protesting going on from both sides, I cannot tell you anything about the show itself. I do not know if this singular production on the Metropolitan Stage is enjoyable, or offensive, or what. But I can tell you how many people left at intermission. Or what this signs said of the protestors outside.
This is the first time I have seen where the media is covering not the production directly, but how the people are responding to it, not the typical norm of the audience reacting to how the press responded to the show. I am interested to see if somewhere there is someone talking not about the controversy involved, but about the show itself. Until then, I will just observe, until I can form some of my opinions on this show based on first hand knowledge.