The opera, about the 1985 seizure of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists, and the subsequent execution of passenger Leon Klinghoffer, is something of a departure for the company. The program for the rest of the season, which ends in October 2005, features the classic operas Don Giovanni and La traviata.
The controversial work features a libretto by Alice Goodman that takes no side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but explores the suffering of both. The opera also features a scene that takes a long look at the lifetime of violence, beginning with a childhood in a refugee camp, of one of the terrorists.
The Death of Klinghoffer premiered in Brussels in 1991, with staging by director Peter Sellars and choreography by Mark Morris.