Thursday, 19 June 2014

Over the top and overboard

I had been looking forward to the telecast of The Death of Klinghoffer (John Adams, 1985) amongst the Met 2014/15 relays – and was dismayed to hear it has been cancelled on grounds it might ‘genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising antisemitism, particularly in Europe’ (Peter Gelb, general manager of Met). 

I find this as unbelievable as I do remarkable. To be very clear, I don’t know the work (and won’t thanks to weak-willed approach). The point is rather that surely art has a moral right to ruffle a few feathers, or even grossly offend, providing it doesn’t incite hatred. Regardless of the contnet, I find it very hard to believe that telecasts might have any such effect. The careful presentation the Met makes with introductions and interval discussions and interviews offer generous scope to handle this with necessary caution. It seems to be a work with real relevance to the current age, and it is really a shame to see this. I would have thought the kind of publicity generated by these decisions is more likely to incite hatred than anything else. If it is all that poisonous, then why are the live performances going ahead?  Perhaps New Yorkers are made of sterner stuff than the rest of us. 

There is a very serious point here and the Met have, in my view, behaved very poorly indeed. What if there is a similar cry, as hears periodically but falsely about Wagner? Or what about Cosi, which is fairly offensive towards women? 

As for Klinghoffer, I want to see it more than I did before: I shall seek a DVD instead.I imagine quite a lot of people will do this. 

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