Even Title Is Inaccurate


Defenders of “The Death of Klinghoffer” argue that many of the opera’s critics have not seen it (“High Drama Over ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera,” June 27). But this work gives offense even before the curtain goes up. The opera’s very title papers over of an act of barbarism.

Death is about biology; murder is about criminality. Leon Klinghoffer didn’t just die; he was murdered. By choosing the word “death,” a natural phenomenon that implies no moral judgment, the composer, John Adams, along with his librettist, Alice Goodman, a poet, who knows that a particular word can make all the difference, became apologists for barbarism.

All of us will suffer death. May none of us suffer what Leon Klinghoffer experienced: a disabled man shot in the head and chest and shoved overboard, wheelchair and all, from the deck of a ship into the sea.