Protesters, many of them Jewish activists, demonstrate as people arrive for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at the Lincoln Centre. Photo: Getty Images
Despite days of protests in New York over the Metropolitan Opera’s decision to stage The Death of Klinghoffer, David Robertson, conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the opera, says the show deserves a hearing.
Robertson, who spoke to Radio National’s breakfast program, said many of the protesters had not seen the opera in question.
“People who are objecting to this, many of whom have no actual knowledge of the opera or contents of the opera other than simply what the story is,” he said.
“The problem is that these days when you’re looking at a piece of work, depending on how you want to google anything you might find any single sentence to be inflammatory,” said Robertson, an American who joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2014.
John Adam’s 1991 opera, The Death of Klinghoffer relates the true story of a Palestinian Liberation Organisation occupation of a luxury cruise liner and the murder of an American man with a disability, who was thrown overboard with his wheelchair.
Robertson also insisted the play did not glorify terrorism, but rather dramatised it.
“It is true that this is a dramatisation of the events and therefore each one of the players involved are dramatised. The piece is not involved in condoning or excusing the heinous criminal act that took place,” he said.
The New York Jewish community has expressed major concerns over the decision to stage the opera, with some politicians threatening to withdraw funding from the Lincoln Centre, home of the Metropolitan Opera.