Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Death of Klinghoffer: More Lies, Anger and Confusion

I continue to find it remarkable that people who don't like John Adams' music (or what they "think" is his message) go on the attack of those who do appreciate his work . . . and there are lots of us who do. I don't give the proverbial rat's ass if someone hates his music, but what I find appalling is the notion being pushed that it should not be performed. This notion comes from many who say they are not arbiters of music, yet they would deny opportunity to others who can and do want to be moved by his music, particularly, as in this instance, "The Death of Klinghoffer."

I read the puff piece in The Wall Street journal and could only shake my head at some of the comments variously describing the composer as a "Jew Hater," with several guessing Adams next work will be an opera about Auschwitz told from the Nazi perspective (with a scene of an old Jewish man singing as he's wheeled into a gas chamber).

Another accuses Adams of being one of a charlatan - unmusical with "little talent and even less artistic taste."

The idiocy abounds with collective outrage demonizing his "celebrating" and "endorsing" the brutal murder of Mr. Klinghoffer, and he thinks it's must be okay to murder a handicapped man "because he is Jewish." Then there are the continued accusations of Adams making the Jews look bad and the terrorists into "sympathetic characters." Have any of them seen this opera? The person who comes off the best is the title character, who courageously confronts the terrorists (let's call them what they are) saying, "somebody's got to tell you the truth . . . We're human, we are the kind of people you want to kill . . . there is so much anger in you, and hate . . . Old men at the Wailing Wall get a knife in the back, you laugh. You pour gasoline over women passengers . . . and burn them alive. You just want to see people die."

Do we ever read these words quoted in the condemnation of this opera? Nope. Not ever. What we read instead are cherry picked like "wherever poor men are gathered they can Find Jews getting fat," always taken out of context and never mentioning these words are sung by Rambo, one of murderers, who also goes on to denigrate not only Jews,but America. By this same logic these people (few if any of whom know anything about this opera) may assert that Adams not only hates Jews, but hates America as well. Gimme a break.

When I reviewed the film version of the opera, several people from Opera-L sent private me e-mails that I could hardly believe, one proclaiming me as "guilty as any Nazi or any other terrorist," another (who I had only pleasant exchanges with previously) inundated my inbox with graphic descriptions of Israelis being raped, tortured and slaughtered by Palestinians telling me since I "got off" watching Klinghoffer murdered I should enjoy these. Then there was the dear lady who suggested I and Mr. Adams begin a defense fund for Abu Abbas so he could get out and kill more Jews. Lovely.

What one also rarely hears is how Adams concludes his opera with the terrorists' arrest, followed by a heart-wrenching aria from Mrs. Klinghoffer, singing of her love for her husband, as anger and grief swell within her, powerfully putting everything into perspective. We never read about this though, because it's an opera about celebrating terrorism and killing Jews.


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