An opera that takes on the conflict in the Middle East made its debut at the Metropolitan Opera Monday night. But it was drawing mixed reviews well before its premiere.
ENERGY COMMITTEE FOR ISRAEL: “If you agree that there’s no place for this anti-Semitic opera in New York City, join the protest on Oct. 20.”
About 400 protesters showed up, but the show's organizers charged many of them haven't even seen the show they’re protesting.
Hence the play’s tagline, “See it, then decide.”
DAN RATHER VIA CBS: “Good evening from CBS News. This is Newsbreak, part of our special coverage of the hijack of the Italian cruise ship the Achille Lauro. ”
Sixty-nine-year-old Leon Klinghoffer was on board the ship when four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front hijacked it. They shot Klinghoffer in his wheelchair and threw him overboard. (Video via PBS)
Called the “Death of Klinghoffer,” the opera tells the story of his murder. It's drawn controversy since its inception more than 20 years ago. (Video via Metropolitan Opera)
The Met contends the opera "grapples with the complexities of an unconscionable real-life act of violence." But critics charge the opera both humanizes and glorifies the terrorists.
RABBI AVI WEISS VIA FOX NEWS: “It sends a message to anyone who watches the opera, why not join these terrorist groups? And in the end, you’re going to be installed as a hero on the stage of the Met opera.”
As did some big-name politicians who joined the protests Monday, including the city’s former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who charged the opera offered “a distorted view of history.”
Current Mayor Bill de Blasio disagreed.
DE BLASIO VIA WABC: “The former mayor had a history of challenging cultural institutions when he disagreed with their content. I don't think that's the American way. I think the American way is to respect freedom of speech.”
The Met says, despite the protests, it has no plans to cancel the production. Monday night's performance saw a few disruptions but ended with a standing ovation from the audience.
This video includes images from Getty Images.