Edinburgh Festival's Death of Klinghoffer Provokes Protest From Human Rights Organization

Classic Arts News   Edinburgh Festival's Death of Klinghoffer Provokes Protest From Human Rights Organization
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, is calling for a boycott of John Adams's opera The Death of Klinghoffer when it debuts at the Edinburgh Festival later this month, the Scotsman reports.

In response to reports that the production includes chorus members planted in among the audience, carrying submachine guns, and eventually storming the stage, Cooper said, "I would hope that the people of Edinburgh would respond appropriately by allowing these moral midgets to do their opera to an empty house."

The opera is about the 1985 seizure of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists, and the subsequent execution of passenger Leon Klinghoffer.

According to Cooper, Scottish Opera's production of Klinghoffer "portray[s] a terrorist in heroic terms [and makes] the audience part of a terrorist onslaught." The decision to mount such a production, he added, was made by people who are "disconnected to reality." "[Where] is the understanding and sympathy for the 7/7 victims and their families?" Cooper said. "To actually have to talk about this in real time, when you are deploying soldiers to safeguard people getting gin to the Tube in London is almost beneath contempt."

Anthony Nielsen, Scottish Opera's artistic director, defended the decision to present Adams's opera, which has been criticized before for its apparent sympathy with Palestinian terrorists. "I'm not in favor of any kind of censorship of self-censorship on any of those levels," he said. "We are constantly hearing that we live in a democratic society that respects free speech. You either have free speech or you don't—there is no halfway house about it."

He added, "It's a more visceral staging of it than has been previously performed. People should come expecting the unexpected."

The Death of Klinghoffer will be performed in Edinburgh on August 23, 25, 27, and 29.

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