With hundreds of protestors howling with disapproval, the cast of John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer" took to the stage at the Metropolitan Opera last night – an event that became front page news with one audience member getting arrested and a verbal spat erupting between a current and former mayor.
Opposing the opera has become a litmus test for some local politicians who agreed with protestors that the work showed a kind of moral ambivalence about the 1985 murder of Klinghoffer, a Jewish New Yorker, by Palestinian terrorists. Supporters of the critically-acclaimed opera – including the Met's Peter Gelb -- were largely surprised by the uproar that the production has caused and denied that it was fuzzy when it came to dealing with Klinghoffer's death.
It's a rare moment when former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Governor David Paterson agree on anything but both of them spoke out at a large rally before the opera began.
A big opera fan, Giuliani said he was not calling for "Klinghoffer" to be canceled but was there to tackle the "historical inaccuracy and the historical damage" the opera commits.
The rally's master of ceremonies, Jeff Wiesenfeld, spoke in far starker terms, saying that while he thought protestors would act appropriately "you can’t be responsible when the Metropolitan Opera advocates terrorism and incites violence — you can’t know what will happen."
Recalling a political battle of another era, Mayor de Blasio weighed in, tweaking Giuliani for his past fight with the Brooklyn Museum -- while supporting the Met for putting on its production.
"I think the American way is to respect freedom of speech. Simple as that,'' de Blasio said.
While the protesters will always see the opera as something that its creators insists it isn't, they largely respected the Met and its audience last night by letting the show go on. And even if that's hardly a chorus of harmony, it's a little note of encouragement in a very noisy fight.