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Opera About 1985 Achille Lauro Hijacking Draws Protests At Met

Bryan Thomas / Getty Images

Protesters rail outside the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center on opening night of the opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" on Monday in New York.

Bryan Thomas / Getty Images

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among those who showed up at the Metropolitan Opera last night to denounce the production of The Death of Klinghoffer, which protesters say glorifies terrorism.

Chanting "Shame on the Met!" protesters, numbering about 400, said the performance of the 23-year-old opera was an affront to the memory of Leon Klinghoffer, a passenger on the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro that was hijacked by members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1985. Klinghoffer, 69, was shot in his wheelchair and dumped overboard.

The New York Times says: "Political figures, including ... Giuliani, joined a rally, several hundred strong at Lincoln Center, to denounce an opera that has become the object of a charged debate about art, anti-Semitism and politics."

The Associated Press reports:

"Standing across the street from Lincoln Center, Giuliani said he wanted to warn people that this opera 'is a distorted work.'

" 'If you listen, you will see that the emotional context of the opera truly romanticizes the terrorists,' he said."

The AP says "Monday's performance went on with a few orchestrated disruptions: Boos were shouted from scattered seats, and a voice kept yelling from a balcony, 'The murder of Klinghoffer will never be forgotten!' The evening ended with a standing ovation that drowned out any heckling."

As NPR's Joel Rose reported earlier this week, the opera, by minimalist-inspired composerJohn Adams, has been a lightning rod since its debut in 1991. Some accuse Adams of being anti-Israel. "But the opera's supporters dispute that. They argue that Klinghoffer is a dramatic masterpiece that deserves to make its Met debut on Monday," Joel reports.

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