New York's Metropolitan Opera is facing controversy this evening, as protesters, led by ex-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, are poised to picket the opening night of The Death Of Klinghoffer.
The opera, which is over 20 years old, has divided people: some see it as a humanist masterpiece, while others view the treatment of the subject matter as antisemitic. The opera follows the events of the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front, and the cold blooded murder of disabled Jewish man Leon Klinghoffer, whose body was thrown overboard.
After the first production in 1991, The Klinghoffers' daughters, Ilsa and Lisa, condemned the work as an exploitation of "our parents and the cold-blooded murder of our father as the centrepiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic".
General manager of The Met has said that donors to opera house "found themselves in a very difficult position... because they wanted to support the Met but felt themselves being torn by pressure from the Jewish community". While Gelb thought it best to cancel the cinema showing of the production, he remains resolute, declaring "It is a brilliant work of art that must be performed... We will not bow to this pressure."
The protests begin tonight, with 100 symbolic wheelchairs (in reference to the disabled Klinghoffer), amid a heavy police presence.
See the official trailer for the production below: