Monday, September 15, 2014

CATO and The Metropolitan Opera's Klinghoffer Controversy

I remain amazed (though should not be) by the efforts to shut down the Met's production of "The Death of Klinghoffer."

The sheer audacity, of CATO's statements such as "the opera promoting terrorism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism." Where? Where does the opera do this.are ludicrous and border on the insane. Certainly they are not steeped in a lick of truth.

Then this:

“The Metropolitan Opera, led by its director, Peter Gelb, persists in presenting The Death Of Klinghoffer this fall, despite the fact that incontrovertible evidence exists in the libretto by Alice Goodman, and in remarks made by Gelb and the composer, John Adams, that the opera supports sympathy for terrorists and hatred for Jews and Israel,” CATO said in a statement.

Whenever a statement such as "incontrovertible evidence exists" to describe an agenda against a work of art, someone is misguided or lying, a tactic using its own indefensible reasoning and lacking sound logic. The article accuses Messrs. Gelb and Adams have made remarks the opera supports hatred for Jews and Israel? When did they do this. CATO offers no solid basis in its lies.

CATO's advertisement and call to arms, sinks includes as its sole photograph an image of the burning Twin Towers, accuses the Met of excusing a barbaric act of terrorism and asks, "What's next at the Met? An opera about the beheading of journalists by 'idealistic' Jihadists?" While I still shudder in horror at the treatment and brutal execution of Mr. Klinghoffer, what a rabble rousing manner - using the Twin Towers - CATO has taken.

Art forces us (or can, or should) to look for deeper truths, and while we all will never arrive at the same place, I find it shameful and wrong that one group would deny anyone the privilege of the ability to grow, to learn, to be moved by something. I'm particularly upset when a majority of said group is comprised of folk, who, herded like sheep, have not experienced that work themselves, who have accepted hearsay and are looking only at parts, not the entirety of a work, and judging based on words taken out-of-context of the whole.

During the Klinghoffer controversy when Julliard presented extended excerpts, the School's long-term President, Joseph Polisi, a self-proclaimed friend of Israel who and recipient of the King Solomon Award called the opera "a profoundly perceptive and human commentary on a political/religious problem that continues to find no resolution" and that cultural institutions "have to be responsible for maintaining an environment in which challenging, as well as comforting, works of art are presented to the public."

There have been a number of movies about terrorism, terrorist cells which have attempted (successfully in my opinion) to depict more than one side of the story. While I will never agree with terrorism, I believe the refusal to even look at the misguided reasons for it, is to ignore the bigger picture.

I still believe the most powerful review of the opera I've read, the one that resonated most with me, was of the film of the opera, in Jewish Film

"... the creators were denounced as unabashedly pro-Palestinian for humanizing the terrorists. In actual fact, the libretto gives voice to heartbreaking sufferings by both Israelis and Palestinians. A decade later, in the wake of unrelenting Middle East conflict, many see the opera's passionate exploration of terrorism from all viewpoints as more important than ever in stimulating dialogue about an intractable situation . . . no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, The Death of Klinghoffer will elicit heated discussion - - and quite possibly, tears."

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Blogger nmharleyrider said...

Thanks you for the welcome contribution to this argument. At least some are maintaining an objective look at this situation. I also deplore the tactics of these people designed to deprive us of our rights to make up our own minds just as the Nazis did when they burned books and the Russians when they quelled the voices of so many artists.

September 15, 2014 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger mogliettina said...

As you already know I am with you all the way in this controversy. I deplore anything or anyone who attempts to squelch my right to decide what I should or should not see when it comes to art.
I want to decide for myself and refuse to knuckle under to "Big Brother".
I am sorry that Peter Gelb even gave in to the HD, which has forced me to see the in-house version of an opera whose composer is not among my favorites and one that I normally would never have bother to spend that kind of money for.

September 15, 2014 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Sharky said...

Thanks, nmharleyrider. I'd never insist everyone think the same as I (what a strange, dull world it would be), but to disregard and not respect others smacks of the same Nazi/Soviet tactics you mention. We're in the 21st century, but some minds just won't budge open. Thanks again.

September 15, 2014 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Sharky said...

Thank, you, mogliettina. Once I found I'd likely not be able to get to NY this year, Gelb's caving in on the HD really hit me hard. There are mistakes all over the place in the handling of this situation, all caused by pressure based on (mostly) irrational fear and false claims.

September 15, 2014 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I'm going to NYC for the matinee and am assuming I will have to run a gauntlet of protesters (I understand there will be a very big demonstration at the opera house on opening night). I think that Gelb's handling of this matter was very ill-advised. He should have responded by defending what actually IS in the opera, not by caving in to charges of what actually isn't. People want everything to be black or white, hero or villain and life isn't that simple.

September 16, 2014 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Sharky said...

Thanks you, Bill. I don't have problems if people have problems with this work . . . BUT the overriding issue is that the protests are about a work of art that attempts to address a difficult subject (to put it minimally) that is NOT what they believe it is, most of whom have not heard, seen or experienced it and relying on second-hand "knowledge." I find the outrage ridiculous in the extreme. Offensive, even.

September 17, 2014 at 3:05 AM  

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