NEW YORK (JTA) — The Metropolitan Opera is canceling a global simulcast of an opera about the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking in which Palestinian terrorists murdered an elderly New York Jewish man in a wheelchair.
The New York company nixed the broadcast of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer” in response to concerns that it could encourage anti-Semitism around the world or legitimize terrorism, the New York Daily News reported.
“I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic. But I’ve 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 Metropolitan Opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said in the Daily News.
In a news release, the Anti-Defamation League welcomed the decision and said it followed a series of conversations between Gelb and its national director, Abraham Foxman.
Foxman, who the ADL said was representing the interests of Leon Klinghoffer’s family, shared concerns that the opera implicitly justified terrorism by juxtaposing Palestinian and Jewish suffering. Klinghoffer was 69 years old when he was shot in the head and thrown overboard the Achille Lauro cruise ship in the Mediterranean.
The Met’s co-production with the English National Opera is scheduled to premiere in New York on Oct. 20.
In addition to canceling the simulcast, which would have been broadcast in more than 2,000 theaters in 66 countries, the Met has agreed to include a statement from Klinghoffer’s daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, in the printed program during the opera’s scheduled run, the ADL said.
In the ADL release, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer said, ” ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to romanticize, rationalize, legitimize and explain it. The political approach of the composer and librettist is evident with the opera’s disingenuous and dangerous juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded, terrorist murder of an innocent disabled American Jew.”