Klinghoffer

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arepo
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Klinghoffer

Post by arepo » Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:57 pm

Monday we're heading to Manhattan to attend the opening of this now controversial opera. We are expecting some problems and hope we are wrong.

Will report the results.

cliftwood

lennygoran
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by lennygoran » Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:03 pm

arepo wrote:Monday we're heading to Manhattan to attend the opening of this now controversial opera. We are expecting some problems and hope we are wrong.

Will report the results.

cliftwood
We are seeing it Nov 5--very much want to hear your report. Regards, Len

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Sat Oct 18, 2014 11:12 pm

I'm afraid you're in for an event as well as a performance. There will certainly be demonstrations outside the Met by Jewish organizations and their sympathizers. The Met's security people will be inspecting bags etc. very closely at the ticket takers, so it will take longer to get into the auditorium. Most likely some protesters will have bought tickets and will try to disrupt the performance by shouting and noisemaking, though I hope security will have prevented them from smuggling in stink bombs and such. and it will take time for the security people to get to the troublemakers and get them out of the auditorium. I don't expect the performance actually to be abandoned, but it's not going to be a quiet evening at the opera.

I'm saying all this with such certainty, though of course I hope I'm wrong, because I've been through it before, in the 1970s, when the Jewish Defense League organized demonstrations at many performances by Russian musicians to protest the Soviet Union's preventing emigration to Israel. They even tried to shout down Mstislav Rostropovich's cello recitals, even though he was one of the rare Russians who stood up for human rights inside the Soviet Union, and was soon to pay the price. That was really stupid and of course it was futile - Brezhnev & Co. didn't care about demonstrations in New York City. But people devoted to a cause are not open to reason.

I'll be going to a later performance and hope the worst of this stuff will be over by then, but I'm not counting on it. Good luck to you, and by all means tell us what happened and what you think of the opera.
John Francis

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by Donald Isler » Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:38 am

I do not question the Met's right to present this production, and I certainly oppose disruptions of performances, such as those against Russian performers, especially Rostropovich back in the '70s. But if I were able to be in the city tomorrow I would probably join a demonstration outside against the production.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by lennygoran » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:00 am

Donald Isler wrote: But if I were able to be in the city tomorrow I would probably join a demonstration outside against the production.
May I ask why? Regards, Len

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:38 am

Donald Isler wrote:I do not question the Met's right to present this production, and I certainly oppose disruptions of performances, such as those against Russian performers, especially Rostropovich back in the '70s. But if I were able to be in the city tomorrow I would probably join a demonstration outside against the production.
Have you actually heard the opera or at least read the libretto? If you haven't, then what would you be demonstrating against, or for?

It might be worth your reading Zachary Woolfe's article about the opera and the opposition to it in today's New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/arts/ ... opera.html
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by Donald Isler » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:52 pm

I've seen enough of the libretto to see that there is ugly anti-Semitism in it. I don't happen to like that.

There are also competing demands for sympathies between people which would not be accepted by polite society if it involved other assortments of people.

If there were an opera about a woman who was raped, would it be acceptable to have the perpetrator sing of his difficulties growing up, or of women who made him feel as he does about women? Would we want to hear that?

If there were an opera about Emmett Till, would it be acceptable to hear arias from the people who killed him, singing about how threatened they felt by Black people? How about an opera about the death of Martin Luther King Jr., in which we're asked to feel for the sorrows of James Earl Ray, whatever they were?

I doubt any of these could be produced in New York, as nice liberals wouldn't have anything to do with such productions.

The Death of Klinghoffer is exactly like the others in that there are criminals versus a totally innocent, indeed, handicapped human being. But Leon Klinghoffer was a Jew. And it is again becoming fashionable to be against the Jews.

But because this is "art" it's "acceptable."

Well, one man's art is another man's garbage.
Donald Isler

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by lennygoran » Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:40 am

Could you supply proof of the anti semitism--I heard the opera just tries to show the various feelings and motives for the murder--terrorism which I condemn but can understand why it's taking place. And how about Zionist political violence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zionist_political_violence

And how about the way the settlements treat Arabs even to this very day.

And:

"The following is a list of United Nations resolutions that concern both Israel and Palestine and bordering states such as Lebanon. As of 2013, Israel had been condemned in 45 resolutions by United Nations Human Rights Council since its creation in 2006—the Council had resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel than on the rest of the world combined. The 45 resolutions comprised almost half (45.9%) of all country-specific resolutions passed by the Council, not counting those under Agenda Item 10 (countries requiring technical assistance).[1] From 1967 to 1989 the UN Security Council adopted 131 resolutions directly addressing the Arab–Israeli conflict. In early Security Council practice, resolutions did not directly invoke Chapter VII. They made an explicit determination of a threat, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, and ordered an action in accordance with Article 39 or 40. Resolution 54 determined that a threat to peace existed within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter, reiterated the need for a truce, and ordered a cease-fire pursuant to Article 40 of the Charter. Although the phrase "Acting under Chapter VII" was never mentioned as the basis for the action taken, the chapter's authority was being used.[2]

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions saying that the strategic relationship with the United States encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist policies and practices.[3] The 9th Emergency Session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of the Security Council when the United States blocked efforts to adopt sanctions against Israel.[4] The United States responded to the frequent criticism from UN organs by adopting the Negroponte doctrine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_th ... _Palestine

Regards, Len

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:59 am

Donald Isler wrote:I've seen enough of the libretto to see that there is ugly anti-Semitism in it. I don't happen to like that.

There are also competing demands for sympathies between people which would not be accepted by polite society if it involved other assortments of people.

If there were an opera about a woman who was raped, would it be acceptable to have the perpetrator sing of his difficulties growing up, or of women who made him feel as he does about women? Would we want to hear that?

If there were an opera about Emmett Till, would it be acceptable to hear arias from the people who killed him, singing about how threatened they felt by Black people? How about an opera about the death of Martin Luther King Jr., in which we're asked to feel for the sorrows of James Earl Ray, whatever they were?

I doubt any of these could be produced in New York, as nice liberals wouldn't have anything to do with such productions.

The Death of Klinghoffer is exactly like the others in that there are criminals versus a totally innocent, indeed, handicapped human being. But Leon Klinghoffer was a Jew. And it is again becoming fashionable to be against the Jews.

But because this is "art" it's "acceptable."

Well, one man's art is another man's garbage.
I can see that you're angry, but you haven't really made an argument that justifies your anger. Of course you aren't obliged to argue your point of view at all, and if you had said only that this was your opinion and you aren't going to discuss it, that would be that. But you've opened the discussion of your opinion, so I'll continue it.

I told you of a long article about the opera and the controversy by Zachary Woolfe in yesterday's New York Times. I refer you to it again:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/arts/ ... opera.html

Saying you have "seen enough of the libretto to see that there is ugly anti-Semitism in it" isn't good enough. Anybody can see enough of Shakespeare's "Othello" to see that there is ugly racism in it, in Iago's speeches. Knowing the whole play, we recognize that Iago is speaking for himself, not for the author and not for us, speaking from Iago's own point of view as convincingly as he is able to, which is what good drama does. Knowing the whole of "The Death of Klinghoffer" should make it abundantly clear that while the Palestinians are speaking for themselves, they are not speaking for the creators of the opera, or for us. The central event of "Klinghoffer" is the cold-blooded murder of an elderly crippled man who has done no harm, which forfeits any sympathy the Palestinians may have aroused by what they've said. The opera ends with a long aria by Marilyn Klinghoffer which I, at least, find deeply moving, and which surely clinches whose side the opera is on.

The Met has posted a link to the complete libretto of "Klinghoffer" online, and I urge you to read it - all of it - in the name of fair-mindedness. And I'll post the final scene here:

CAPTAIN
Mrs. Klinghoffer, please sit down.
You must be tired. You haven't been
Down to your cabin yet. You have?
That's good. You are a very brave
Woman. A rara avis. I
Have something terrible to say.
It seems your husband has been killed.
There was no witness. I am told
His body was thrown overboard
In the wheelchair. I am afraid
It is true. It sounds like the truth.
How weak and fruitless, from my mouth,
Words of condolence must be now
To you, who loved him, and who knew
Him better than you knew yourself.
You look past me for him. In half
A minute, you think, he will come
And comfort me. I pray that time
Will heal you, and the Lord assuage
Your sorrow, so that this mirage
Will soften into memory
And phantom pain into strange joy.

MARILYN KLINGHOFFER
You embraced them!
And now you come,
The Captain,
Every vein
Stiff with adrenaline,
The touch of Palestine
On your uniform,
And offer me your arm.
I would spit on you
But my mouth is dry.
I have no spit
And no tears yet.
The whole time I thought
He was all right,
Below decks somewhere
Being cared for.
We heard them fire.
It didn't register.
And Leon Klinghoffer,
My husband,
My best friend,
Is killed by a punk
While I think
Of this and that,
Hearing the shot,
Discounting it,
Looking at the sky,
Chatting idly.
Why didn't I know?

Oh God, with all the pain
Of hands, of feet, of skin,
Of the intestine,
Of liver and spleen,
And heart, and brain,
Of every organ,
And nerve and bone,
Of muscle and tendon,
Of the womb
And the spinal column
That I have borne,
Why nothing then
Of what Leon
Had endured,
What he suffered
Before they fired?
He would resist.

I can't recall the last
Sight I had of him.
We used to sit at home
Together at night
When the children were out.
I wouldn't glance up
From the book on my lap
For hours at a time,
And yet it was the same
As if I had gazed at him
I knew his face so well,
His beautiful smile.
I have only a short
Time. What can part
Us while I live?
He lives in me.
I grieve
As a pregnant woman
Grieves for the unseen
Long imagined son.
Suffering is certain.

The remembered man
Rising from my heart
Into the world to come,
It is he whom
The Lord will redeem
When I am dead.
I should have died.
If a hundred
People were murdered
And their blood
Flowed in the wake
Of this ship like
Oil, only then
Would the world intervene.
They should have killed me.
I wanted to die.

http://www.boosey.com/downloads/KlinghofferLibretto.pdf

Here it is with Adams's music, from the film by Penny Woolcock. The staging is hers - there are no stage directions in the libretto:

John Francis

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by Donald Isler » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:55 am

Lenny,

I do not have the entire libretto before me but have seen excerpts with ugly references to Jews in it.

Also, Klinghoffer was killed because the murderers were mad at Israel. Klinghoffer was not an Israeli. But he was a Jew. Which was good enough for the murderers. Being anti-Israel is more and more an excuse for being anti-Semitic these days; they're almost the same thing now. it could have been you or me.

John,

No one has compared this opera with Shakespeare, as far as I know. Here's another "artistic" comparison: Hitler's Mein Kampf, were it written in wonderfully literate and beautiful German (which it is not), might be considered "art" by some. But not by others, since the content is rotten.

And as far as saying I haven't proven my point you omitted to say "by my standards." You have your standards, which I do not necessarily accept, and I have mine, whether you like them or not.
Donald Isler

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:15 am

The side-bar fact is, both the Met and Adams have always relied on the opera to generate controversy (and thus, publicity and sales), and neither the Met nor Adams has a reliable filter for determining when their thirst for controversy careens into poor taste.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by lennygoran » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:05 am

[quote="Donald Isler"]Lenny,

>I do not have the entire libretto before me but have seen excerpts with ugly references to Jews in it.
Also, Klinghoffer was killed because the murderers were mad at Israel. Klinghoffer was not an Israeli. But he was a Jew. Which was good enough for the murderers. Being anti-Israel is more and more an excuse for being anti-Semitic these days; they're almost the same thing now. it could have been you or me.<

Donald thanks for your thoughts-I'll have to see for myself--if there are ugly references to Jews they would have to be put in the context of who is speaking them--villains say bad things but that doesn't mean the writer or composer is saying them. Also I feel terrorism, fanaticism, refusal to compromise can lead to innocent people being harmed. Regards, Len

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:26 am

Donald,

From what you say in your latest, you still haven't read either the libretto for "The Death of Klinghoffer," which is indeed before you - I gave you a link to it - or the Times article, for which I've also provided you with a link. Here they are again:

The libretto: http://www.boosey.com/downloads/KlinghofferLibretto.pdf

The article, for the third time: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/arts/ ... opera.html

Your reference to "Mein Kampf" is illogical. Whatever the quality of Hitler's prose, no case can be made that its antisemitic statements are atypical - it's antisemitic through and through. Whether or not it's a work of art is beside the point; Christopher Marlowe's "The Jew of Malta" is a work of art and clearly antisemitic.

Of course the "Klinghoffer" libretto contains "ugly references to Jews." Murderous Islamic terrorists say and believe such things, and if they didn't hate Jews, they wouldn't have murdered Leon Klinghoffer. But if you read the whole drama, you'll find that those references are all in one aria by one of the terrorists, "Rambo," and aren't typical of the other characters including the other terrorists and the chorus of Palestinian refugees. My comparison with "Othello" addresses the same crucial point: that while the script contains ugly references to black people, these are typical only of the villain. Therefore "Othello" as a whole is not a racist work, and by the same reasoning, "Klinghoffer" as a whole is not antisemitic.

If you'd like to dispute that conclusion, by all means read the complete libretto and show me where I'm wrong. So far all I've seen is your impression based on unquoted bits and pieces taken out of a context that you appear not to know. But maybe for you the issue is closed and you don't want to think about it any more. If so, then fine, I'll leave you alone.
John Francis

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:38 am

When I got to the library, the police were all around the Lincoln Center plaza in force, and had barricaded all the entrances except one on the Broadway side. I showed my NYPL ID card to get in, though maybe I didn't have to, as some visitors made it to the library with no particular credentials. The photo slide show in the NY Times shows quite a few of the demonstrators sitting in chairs on the plaza, whether provided by the Met or by Lincoln Center Inc. I couldn't say, and then standing room only behind them. The news story says, "By the time opera ended, with a roar of cheers when Mr. Adams took the stage, there had been two major disruptions: Before the intermission, a man shouted “The murder of Klinghoffer will never be forgiven” several times before being escorted out, and during the second half, just after the character of Leon Klinghoffer was murdered, a woman cried out a vulgarity and left, accompanied by ushers. Met officials said at intermission that the man had been arrested on charges of disorderly conduct." It could have been worse.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/21/arts/ ... tests.html

One of us was at the performance and may post his observations of what went on.

Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani invited himself to the demonstration, complaining that the opera gives "a distorted view of history." Come on, Rudy, this isn't a docudrama, it's an opera; you're an opera buff, you well know that historical accuracy is not a conspicuous feature of, say, Handel's "Giulio Cesare" or Verdi's "Don Carlo." Giuliani is said to be planning another run for the presidency and I suspect he was trolling for Jewish votes. The current mayor, Bill di Blasio, who was not at Lincoln Center, had previously observed that Giuliani as mayor had a record of trying to control or suppress art whose content he didn't like, and said the usual things about freedom of speech.
John Francis

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by RebLem » Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:00 am

One of the commenters after the Wall Street Journal report as posted on MSN.com, summed it up for me: "How history repeats itself. Hitler would have considered this opera 'degenerate art.'"
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by Modernistfan » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:25 am

The reference to "Don Carlo" is actually very apposite. If you recall, the Grand Inquisitor himself makes an appearance in that Verdi opera. It would be a disastrous error to presume that Verdi was in favor of the Inquisition from that. Verdi, although raised Catholic, like the vast majority of Italians at the time, was an atheist as an adult and was stridently anticlerical. He served several terms in the Italian parliament at a time when the major issue in Italian politics was whether the Catholic Church would continue to have any temporal authority in Italy, and Verdi came down solidly in favor of the position that Italy should be a secular state with the church having no role outside the religious sphere.

This is an opera. Operas tell stories, often about conflicts involving very nasty people. Operas are not news reports or documentaries.

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:31 am

RebLem wrote:One of the commenters after the Wall Street Journal report as posted on MSN.com, summed it up for me: "How history repeats itself. Hitler would have considered this opera 'degenerate art.'"
Yes, because it's so sympathetic to the Jews. :mrgreen:
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:51 am

RebLem wrote:One of the commenters after the Wall Street Journal report as posted on MSN.com, summed it up for me: "How history repeats itself. Hitler would have considered this opera 'degenerate art.'"
Really, you're going to allow the cheap gambit of playing the Hitler card "sum it up" for you?

So no artist should ever criticize another (living) artist's work, for fear of being compared himself to Hitler, yes?

Why argue, when you can sling a broad brush? And, no, no, that was nothing like Hitler, no.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:28 pm


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:31 am

Thanks, John.
La Midgette wrote:Even the strongest music in the world cannot redeem a libretto as diffuse and full of blather as Alice Goodman’s tedious “Klinghoffer” text.
. . . and Adams’s music here is perhaps not even his own strongest, let alone “the strongest in the world.”

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by diegobueno » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:33 am

Another report of the Met's Klinghoffer.

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/blog/dea ... ra-opening

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:42 am

La Midgette wrote:. . . shining choruses pregnant with tension.
It would be a funny world if we all thought the same. The choruses that I heard didn't seem much to me at all.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by arepo » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:32 pm

Just returned from NYC, having seen this opera on opening night.

The demonstrations across the street from the Met were quite tame compared to what we expected. Speeches by politicians and Jewish organizations were ongoing from about 5:30 until 7:30 and the entire area was heavily policed and clearly kept the atmosphere from erupting into anything but what it was -- a civil demonstration and not much more. During the performance there were a few shoutings from the audience but the most significant noise came from the audience as the curtain fell, all who remained standing, clearly indicating their approval of this work and this production.

I think that the cases for both the Israelis and the Palestinians were objectively made and the opera could not, IMHO, be identified as either anti-Semitic or pro Terrorist. Whether Klinghoffer was murdered because he was simply Jewish or more probably due to his rising up from his wheelchair and strongly condemning the terrorist's past actions against Israel, is open to debate.

Adams does a fine job musically in this opera, with a powerful orchestration, some excellent choral passages, and the production had some outstanding choreography which was quite impressive.

I'm happy to have seen it and consider it a work that should be in the repertoire and made available for all to see.

cliftwood

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by bigshot » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:01 pm

Whether he was killed just because he was a Jew or because he spoke up for something he believed?

Killing someone for either of those reasons qualifies as murder in my book.

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:27 pm

bigshot wrote:Killing someone for either of those reasons qualifies as murder in my book.
Nobody questions that, do they? Other than the killers themselves, perhaps. arepo certainly doesn't.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by bigshot » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:45 pm

Perhaps an opera giving fair consideration to Charles Manson's point of view!

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Oct 22, 2014 9:39 pm

arepo wrote:Just returned from NYC, having seen this opera on opening night.

The demonstrations across the street from the Met were quite tame compared to what we expected. Speeches by politicians and Jewish organizations were ongoing from about 5:30 until 7:30 and the entire area was heavily policed and clearly kept the atmosphere from erupting into anything but what it was -- a civil demonstration and not much more. During the performance there were a few shoutings from the audience but the most significant noise came from the audience as the curtain fell, all who remained standing, clearly indicating their approval of this work and this production.

I think that the cases for both the Israelis and the Palestinians were objectively made and the opera could not, IMHO, be identified as either anti-Semitic or pro Terrorist. Whether Klinghoffer was murdered because he was simply Jewish or more probably due to his rising up from his wheelchair and strongly condemning the terrorist's past actions against Israel, is open to debate.

Adams does a fine job musically in this opera, with a powerful orchestration, some excellent choral passages, and the production had some outstanding choreography which was quite impressive.

I'm happy to have seen it and consider it a work that should be in the repertoire and made available for all to see.

cliftwood
It is good to hear from you Harris. I hope you will come back and post more often. I know that you were earlier put off for reasons best not gone into. I have no authority here, but I look forward to your more frequent posting.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:33 am

Distress at Sea, and Offstage
‘The Death of Klinghoffer,’ at the Metropolitan Opera
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
OCT. 21, 2014

One of the most wrenching moments in “The Death of Klinghoffer,” the 1991 opera by the composer John Adams and the librettist Alice Goodman, occurs during the final monologue by Marilyn Klinghoffer, which brings this raw, penetrating, strangely mystical work to its conclusion. The earthy mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens was overwhelming in this scene when the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Klinghoffer,” a company premiere, opened on Monday night.

Marilyn has just been told by the captain of the Italian cruise ship on which she had been enjoying a Mediterranean tour with her husband, Leon Klinghoffer, that Leon is dead. He has been shot by hijackers from the Palestine Liberation Front, who have tossed his body into the sea, along with the wheelchair he used. As this horror sinks in, Marilyn erupts at the earnest captain, who had tried to reason with the Palestinians. “You embraced them!” she sings with stinging outrage, as the orchestra breaks into fitful leaps and shrieking chords.

Slowly, though, memories come to her of nights at home, when her children were out, and just she and Leon sat together. “I wouldn’t glance up/From the book on my lap/For hours at a time,” she sings, while the music’s sputtering vocal lines, jagged rhythms and piercing cluster chords gradually settle into a mood of quieter despair. “I knew his face so well/His beautiful smile.”

Marilyn and Leon Klinghoffer were a modest, hard-working Jewish American couple from New York. And the “children” referred to are presumably their daughters, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, who have long been distressed by this opera, which they feel, as they write in a program note, “rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”

There were, as anticipated, hundreds of protesters assembled near Lincoln Center Plaza who denounced the work as anti-Semitic and sympathetic to terrorists. Though people had threatened to disrupt the opera, the performance went on with only two real interruptions, along with some scattered bursts of chanting and booing.

The brilliant conductor David Robertson led a pulsing, nuanced and colorful account of this complex score.

It was certainly a risky decision for Mr. Adams, Ms. Goodman and the original director, Peter Sellars, who helped conceive this work, to draw on recent history, especially a murderous act of terrorism, for a subject. Yet, in death, Leon Klinghoffer became a public figure, an innocent but defiant hero, lost to what still seems like a never-ending conflict in the Middle East.

Of all the arts, opera can use the subliminal power of music to explore motivations, including seething hatreds. This opera tries to explore what drove these Palestinians to take that ship and murder its most vulnerable passenger.

“Klinghoffer,” though not without flaws, including a couple of satirical Western characters that could have been left out, is a searching, spiritual and humane work. The piece is as much a ruminative reflection on the events of the hijacked Achille Lauro cruise ship as a dramatization of them.

This is one of Mr. Adams’s most inspired and personal scores, with episodes of haunting, hazy music in which, over subdued, ominous, sustained bass tones in the orchestra, instruments spin out melodic lines full of ancient-sounding curlicues. And Ms. Goodman’s poetic libretto, though often enigmatic, is powerfully so. Parts of the text remind me of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, which can seem profound and full of richly detailed imagery, even when the meaning is obscure.

The staging, by the acclaimed British director Tom Morris, in his Met debut, is a co-production with the English National Opera in London, where it opened in 2012. While trying to maintain some of the metaphoric ambiguity of the opera, this production tells the story more literally and in greater historical detail. I can understand why Mr. Morris took this approach, which has advantages and disadvantages.

The opera starts with a pair of brooding, elegiac choruses: first a Chorus of Exiled Palestinians, then a Chorus of Exiled Jews. The sets by Tom Pye have a back wall of moving panels that serve as surfaces for video images by Finn Ross. The first chorus begins with a group of bedraggled Palestinian women singing a weary, churning melodic line, invoking razed villages and a collective longing for a homeland. We see images of arid terrain and parched hills. When the Palestinian men join in, the music turns violent, with denunciations of the “supplanters.” Then choristers remove their head scarves and outer garments (the costumes are by Laura Hopkins) to become the exiled Jews, in modern garb. “Klinghoffer” places enormous demands on an opera house chorus, and the Met’s great choristers threw themselves into every scene.

The characters in the opera sometimes recall the events of the hijacking and, at other times, enact them. This production tries to clarify the difference between past and present. In the first scene, we see the captain and several passengers taking turns at a lectern, delivering their individual accounts of an episode years in the past. First, there is the long narrative of the Captain, as the character is called, performed here by the baritone Paulo Szot, who brings a virile voice, dignity and injured pride to this central role. Then, other characters rise from chairs to tell their stories, including the First Officer (Christopher Feigum) and the Swiss Grandmother (Maria Zifchak).

As the opera unfolds, historical facts about the cruise, its passengers and the hijackers are projected on back walls, complete with dates and photographs, including images of the Klinghoffers. Without this information, the opera can be hard to follow, a complaint leveled at the original production in Brussels, which later played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Yet this projected information often undermines the reflective, oratorical mood that the music and words are striving for.

The lanky tenor Sean Panikkar brings youthful rashness and a bright, defiant voice to the role of Molqi, a hotheaded Palestinian. The bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, with his husky physique and robust voice, makes a menacing figure as the hijacker nicknamed Rambo, who spouts a hateful, anti-Jewish rant.

In a way, the bravest portrayal comes from the sturdy bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock, in his Met debut, who dares to plumb the character of the hijacker Mamoud for all its emotional complexity. Mamoud can be brutal when pushing around captive passengers. But he is a dreamer, too, with a fondness for the love songs of his region. During a crucial scene, telling the Captain about a raid against his people, he says that God in his mercy allowed him to see his decapitated brother, close his brother’s eyes and wipe his face.

The Captain replies that if Mamoud could talk like this among his enemies, peace would come. In response, Mr. Allicock’s Mamoud, looking stone-faced, brought chilling calm to the passage that underlines the tragedy of this opera: The day he and his enemies sit peacefully, Mamoud explains, each “putting his case” and working toward peace, is the “day our hope dies,” the day that “I shall die, too.”

In the libretto, the murder takes place offstage. Here, it is depicted explicitly, which should silence detractors who charge that “Klinghoffer” explains away a vicious murder.

The baritone Alan Opie sings Leon with an elegant blend of poignancy and feistiness. The character has only two riveting monologues, the first in Act II, when Leon, unable to bear any more from these bullying punks, dares to denounce them. Later, the body of Leon sings a final monologue, like a benediction, in music that surrounds ethereal vocal lines with shimmering strings and pungent harmonies spiked with dissonance.

A tragic paradox of this great opera comes when Marilyn is told that Leon has been taken below deck to the infirmary to be watched over. This means that for a while, Marilyn, who has cancer (a disease that claimed the life of the real Marilyn Klinghoffer four months after these events), can relax a little and stop worrying about her husband. But it is during this seeming break for Marilyn that Leon is killed.

Though there were some boos mixed in, the ovations at the end were tremendous, especially for the beaming Mr. Adams. The audience seemed grateful for the chance actually to see this opera, instead of just hearing about it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/arts/ ... debut.html
John Francis

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:11 am

Mr Tommasini is either mistaken or disingenuous. It was nothing like a "risky decision." It was always about controversy and publicity.

Cynical, possibly. Inartistic to some degree, absolutely. But risky? Not in a hundred years.

Nobody in the mainstream media is talking about the work of any living composer, except for this piece by Adams. And Tommasini invites us to feel pangs of sympathy for Adams, for his brave, brave "risky decision"? Utterly risible.

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by diegobueno » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:05 am

I read nowhere in that review that Tommasini is inviting us to have "pangs of sympathy" for Adams. It is clear, though, that Tommasini is very sympathetic to the work, dwelling on what he sees as the strong suits and passing quickly over what he sees as faults.

He doesn't mention this in the review, but from the description, it sounds like the staging of the opera was heavily influenced by the Penny Woolcock film of the opera, which treats the action very literally, putting the barbarity of the terrorists in a very in-your-face way. Hard to watch, but very effective.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:07 am

karlhenning wrote:Mr Tommasini is either mistaken or disingenuous. It was nothing like a "risky decision." It was always about controversy and publicity.

Cynical, possibly. Inartistic to some degree, absolutely. But risky? Not in a hundred years.
Come on, Karl. There were real risks, and not just alienating crucial supporters of the Met. There was also the possibility of performance-ending disruption in the auditorium, even threatened and real violence (bomb threats, actual smoke and stink and tear gas bombs, even real bombs), the possibility of a violent clash outside the Met between the demonstrators and police, and so on. You believe such things couldn't have happened? They did in the 1970s and 1980s, right here in New York, when the Jewish Defense League was violently protesting the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union. It's against this background that Peter Gelb caved in to the JDL's demand that "Klinghoffer" not be broadcast or televised, but he had the guts to refuse to cancel the production altogether. Fortunately the pro-Jewish organizations that led this demonstration didn't behave like the old-time JDL, but this couldn't be certain until the end of the performance.

You may not take these possibilities seriously. I do, because I was there. In the 1970s, the JDL disrupted a Carnegie Hall recital by Mstislav Rostropovich as part of their campaign against everything and everyone Soviet - even though Rostropovich was one of the bravest defenders of human rights inside the Soviet Union. The disruption consisted of several men in formal orthodox clothing running down the aisles to the platform during the performance, turning to face the audience, and shouting at us. It took some time to get the security people into the auditorium to carry the protesters out bodily. Rostropovich and his pianist sat calmly until this was done, then resumed the concert, but the evening was ruined. Fortunately that was all that happened to us, but elsewhere it was worse. "In 1972, a smoke bomb was planted in the Manhattan office of music impresario Sol Hurok, who organized Soviet performers' U.S. tours. Iris Kones, a Jewish secretary from Long Island, died of smoke inhalation, and Hurok and 12 others were injured and hospitalized." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Defense_League)

You may discount all this and believe there was actually no risk at all, but with this history, it would have been irresponsible for the Met to make that assumption, and bad reporting for the newspapers not to recognize the risk.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:41 am

Thanks for the emendation, John.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:43 am

And thank you for underscoring, too, how wooden-eared the decision was.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by dulcinea » Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:45 pm

Will Adams make an opera about the baby girl who was recently assassinated in Israel?
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by diegobueno » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:25 pm


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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:15 am

dulcinea wrote:Will Adams make an opera about the baby girl who was recently assassinated in Israel?
It looks like the partnership that created the so-called CNN operas has broken up, largely due to the response to "The Death of Klinghoffer." The librettist Alice Goodman has written that she expects never to get another commission, either with or without John Adams. The provocateur of all this, Peter Sellars, is still lurking in the Adams neighborhood, and wrote the libretto of Adams's "Doctor Atomic," but that's a pretty safe subject and there's nothing outrageous in how the opera treats it, so maybe Sellars has learned his lesson (or had it beaten into his thick skull). I read in Wikipedia that Goodman was involved in it for a year and then withdrew.

But others have written CNN operas and I expect will continue to do so. Another thread mentions "Harvey Milk," an opera about the assassinated politician in San Francisco.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:28 am

diegobueno wrote:Alex Ross' take on the opera:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/long-wake
Thanks. Ross has really studied this opera, not just responded to seeing it, and his is the commentary with the greatest depth. A nice recovery from the forced, absurd Beethoven-bashing in last week's book review, also in the New Yorker with a link posted in CMG.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by arepo » Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:08 am


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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by jserraglio » Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:08 am

Fortunately, out here in the hinterland I can dodge the sail trimmers and listen undisturbed to my recording of a fine opera. I heard Adams give a fascinating concert talk before a performance of Naive and Sentimental Music with the Cleveland, a work that was loudly booed by certain high-minded patrons of Severance Hall. I realize now they were probably booing the man not the performance. Adams does seem to elicit ire. Less of a firebrand I could not imagine. He certainly charmed my wife, no lover of classical music. Maybe because in answer to an impertinent question from the audience about his love life, he exclaimed w/ mock exasperation: "Sir! I am a happily married man."

Othello: a very interesting case because it is not just the villain, though he is the main one, who objectifies Othello:

Brabantio: . . . And she, in spite of nature,
Of years, of country, credit, everything,
To fall in love with what she feared to look on?
It is a judgment maimed and most imperfect
That will confess perfection so could err.
Against all rules of nature, and must be driven
To find out practices of cunning hell
Why this should be.

Desdemona: That I did love the Moor to live with him,
My downright violence and storm of fortunes
May trumpet to the world. My heart’s subdued
Even to the very quality of my lord.
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,
And to his honors and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.

Othello: . . .Haply, for I am black
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have, or for I am declined
Into the vale of years,—yet that's not much—
She's gone. I am abused; and my relief
Must be to loathe her.

Emilia: O, the more angel she,
And you the blacker devil!
Othello: She turn'd to folly, and she was a whore.
Emilia: Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
She was too fond of her most filthy bargain.

So if Klinghoffer is to be snipped out of certain venues, why spare Othello or The Merchant of Venice which are shot thru with ugly and hateful speech?
Last edited by jserraglio on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:18 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:24 am

Sheesh! Amazing. Thanks for posting.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:56 am

jserraglio wrote:... I heard Adams give a fascinating concert talk before a performance of Naive and Sentimental Music with the Cleveland, a work that was loudly booed by certain high-minded patrons of Severance Hall. I realize now they were probably booing the man not the performance.
I am sure it was a fine performance.

Three or four months ago I revisited Naïve and Sentimental Music, to which I had not listened for probably a decade. The persistence of my memory works a bit in this way, that I still remember the impression of thorough excellence the sextet version of Shaker Loops made upon me when I was a doctoral student . . . and I don't like to think that that old piece remains Adams at his musical best: as with any of the composers honored through the centuries, I want to find that his art waxes greater with practice.

I thought a bit better of Naïve and Sentimental Music than I did at first; shouldn't say I like it now, but I think I've compensated by "listening around it." This time through, I found that I don't mind the guitar in the second movement so much as I had at first. Perhaps . . . well, I don't remember losing patience with the first movement that first hearing, or certainly do not remember losing patience with it so early. It starts off well enough . . . I'll stop there.

As a result, the open of the second movement comes almost as mere relief. It is better than that, it is good writing (though, as with the first movement, I could hear someone saying it starts off well enough . . . .)

Adams is a texturalist rather than a composer, I suppose is what I am coming close to saying. He is capable of writing excellent musical stuff; I just have not (in any of his music other than Shaker Loops) found myself convinced by any overall composition.

He has fans enough, that this musical opinion of mine will do him no hurt.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:18 am

Maybe Adams is one of those composers (why not call him that?) who works best when setting words - the text provides structure for the work. Others include Wagner, Verdi, Rossini...
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by jserraglio » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:35 am

karlhenning wrote:
jserraglio wrote:... I heard Adams give a fascinating concert talk before a performance of Naive and Sentimental Music with the Cleveland, a work that was loudly booed by certain high-minded patrons of Severance Hall. I realize now they were probably booing the man not the performance.
I am sure it was a fine performance.

Three or four months ago I revisited Naïve and Sentimental Music, to which I had not listened for probably a decade. The persistence of my memory works a bit in this way, that I still remember the impression of thorough excellence the sextet version of Shaker Loops made upon me when I was a doctoral student . . . and I don't like to think that that old piece remains Adams at his musical best: as with any of the composers honored through the centuries, I want to find that his art waxes greater with practice.

I thought a bit better of Naïve and Sentimental Music than I did at first; shouldn't say I like it now, but I think I've compensated by "listening around it." This time through, I found that I don't mind the guitar in the second movement so much as I had at first. Perhaps . . . well, I don't remember losing patience with the first movement that first hearing, or certainly do not remember losing patience with it so early. It starts off well enough . . . I'll stop there.

As a result, the open of the second movement comes almost as mere relief. It is better than that, it is good writing (though, as with the first movement, I could hear someone saying it starts off well enough . . . .)

Adams is a texturalist rather than a composer, I suppose is what I am coming close to saying. He is capable of writing excellent musical stuff; I just have not (in any of his music other than Shaker Loops) found myself convinced by any overall composition.

He has fans enough, that this musical opinion of mine will do him no hurt.

Cheers,
~Karl
I love this work, bought the Nonesuch CD the day it came out and listened practically nonstop thru headphones for a week. Now what surprised me to no end was that my wife really liked the Cleveland performance. I couldnt imagine why, it's a knotty work to take in at one hearing. Then it dawned on me: maybe it was Adams' charming pre-concert lecture that predisposed her to the work, just as the whole Cling-hoffer shebang might have predisposed the Severance ladies-of-blue-coiffure to hate it.
Last edited by jserraglio on Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:49 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:36 am

John F wrote:Maybe Adams is one of those composers (why not call him that?) who works best when setting words - the text provides structure for the work. Others include Wagner, Verdi, Rossini...
Yes, of course he's a composer, not a grocer ; ) I was just assaying a point.

I've a friend, whose musical opinion I certainly respect, who is a big fan of El Niño . . . I should give that a fresh go, soon.

OTOH, as I mentioned, the choruses from Klinghoffer which I've heard didn't impress me. As ever, YMMV.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by maestrob » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:13 am

Adams, like any other composer, has his ups and downs. I'm actually (being an opera conductor) not mad about ANY of his operas, but the piece that Adams struggled with the most also happens to be my favorite, and that's Harmonielehre. Very Brucknerian in its use of brass, it is repetitive, but it's Adams's greatest work IMHO. There are several good recordings, the best is by Sir Simon in his early days in England.

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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by arepo » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:17 am


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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:39 am

Cheers, Cliftwood!
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by karlhenning » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:46 am

maestrob wrote:Adams, like any other composer, has his ups and downs. I'm actually (being an opera conductor) not mad about ANY of his operas, but the piece that Adams struggled with the most also happens to be my favorite, and that's Harmonielehre. Very Brucknerian in its use of brass, it is repetitive, but it's Adams's greatest work IMHO. There are several good recordings, the best is by Sir Simon in his early days in England.
Cheers, friend!

I'll give that one a fresh go, as well. First heard it (or, much of it) in a grad composer's seminar at Buffalo. Possibly not fair to the piece, of course, but in my ears it suffered from comparison to another piece we had heard not long before, Louis Andriessen's Hoketus, which has both a focus and a convincing arc to it which won me over solidly on first hearing. I entirely get that it's no good panning Piece B. because it's different than Piece A., but (as I say) the one piece sold me on one listen, and the other, not. (No, it's not the only time I have listened to Harmonielehre ; )

Checking my logs, it was in March that I made a point of revisiting (and listening for the first time, in some cases, to) some of Adams's pieces. Enough time has passed, that it will do me no grief to try the Harmonielehre and El Niño again.

Best,
~k.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by Lance » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:27 pm

HARRIS! How great to see you on CMG. Like others, we INSIST that you post more on CMG. I've been absent myself this past year more than I like due to PIANO duties of all kinds. But we miss you and your beloved Mrs. I'm trying to get back into the groove here more and more.
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Re: Klinghoffer

Post by John F » Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:14 am

Anybody else going to the performance on November 5? If so, see the thread "ebola nyc high line" in Corner Pub. Don't ask me why. :)
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