David Calling

The Met’s Bad Taste Dressed Up as Principle

The Met is putting on an opera called The Death of Klinghoffer. Leon Klinghoffer was an elderly Jewish man with physical disabilities that necessitated using a wheel-chair.  He was on a cruise in the Mediterranean when Palestinian gunmen hijacked the ship, shot him dead, and threw him in his wheelchair overboard. In the interest of truth, the word “death” in the title should read “murder,” and be qualified by an adjective like “foul” or ”inhuman.”

Klinghoffer’s daughters and many others object to the staging. The libretto at times is openly anti-Semitic, and also condones Palestinian brutality. The Met management holds that artistic freedom is sufficient defense.

As long ago as 1830, Parisians showed how to deal with bad taste dressed up as principle. In a historic row that has set a precedent, audiences booed so much at Victor Hugo’s play Hernani that they broke it up.  Opera-goers have as much right to their opinion as the Met managers, and at every performance should easily be able to make noises louder than the singers.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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