New Yorkers opposed to a controversial show opening at the Metropolitan Opera House took their complaints right to the front door of the institution’s owner Monday.
Dozens of people from different backgrounds gathered outside Lincoln Center calling on the Met Opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, to cancel its upcoming performances of “The Death of Klinghoffer.” The opera depicts the 1985 hijacking of an Italian cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists and murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish New Yorker, and it has been accused of being anti-Semitic tone.
Protesters let Gelb know how they felt about his decision to run the show as he walked past the crowd to the opera house Tuesday afternoon.
“Shame on you,” the crowd shouted.
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, brushed off the comments of the opera’s writer, John Adams, that the show — which was first perfomed in Belgium in 1991 — was not meant to promote anti-Semitism. The rabbi, who was one of several speakers including Catholic League President Bill Donahue and state Assemb. David Weprin, said the show glorifies the terrorists by trivializing the events with music.
“We as Jews got stabbed in the back by the Met,” he Potasnik. “What’s next? ‘ISIS: A Love Story’?”
The Met, which is planning to present the opera in October and November, reiterated that although the show deals with difficult subject matter it stood by Adams’s work.
“As a cultural institution, we unwaveringly support the freedom of artists to create responsible work that addresses difficult contemporary topics. We firmly believe that artistic explorations of politically charged subjects should be presented to the public without fear of censorship,” it said in a statement.
Stage and screen actor Tony Lo Bianco disagreed. The “French Connection” castmember argued the opera house needs to reconsider especially in light of the rise in violence and terror by extremist groups overseas.
“Freedom of expression is your right, but remember the enemy can hear you,” said Lo Bianco, 77.