Moustafa Bayoumi, Kayla Epstein, Alan Yuhas, and Eli Valley in The Guardian:
As this panel’s Orthodox Jewish participant, I’m aware that I’ve been asked to participate for a very specific purpose: to bring the bearing of my religious and cultural upbringing to the question of whether The Death of Klinghoffer is antisemitic.
So let’s just get that out of the way: the answer is no.
I can understand why some would jump to to that conclusion, especially if they haven’t seen the opera. Klinghoffer forces Jewish audiences to confront some uncomfortable aspects of Israel’s history, and to relive a tragic chapter in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are some antisemitic lines delivered by one of the hijackers: “America is one big Jew,” he sneers at his cowering captives. But his brutal actions and the shrill, frenzied music that accompanies his words so clearly prove him a villain that it’s ridiculous to say composer John Adams and his librettist Alice Goodman are promoting that view.
Though two opposing sides are given the opportunity, over three hours, to present their narratives, it’s crucial to remember who gets the last word. Klinghoffer ends with a beautiful, heartbreaking aria by his widow Marilyn, who has just learned of the death of her husband. “I wanted to die,” she cries out. The finale lays bare the suffering and anguish that terrorism and antisemitism has wrought.
So why the outrage? Because there’s a lot of ignorance out there drowning out the facts about what this opera is about.