The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams (1991)

4 March 2012

To English National Opera to see the London stage premiere of John Adams’s ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ (first produced in 1991, only 6 years after the PLO hijacking of the Achille Lauro which it depicts).

Obviously it drives a humvee through a hornets’ nest of taboos, which I will carefully avoid. As to the theatrical experience:

  1. The staging was great, with striking film projected on the backdrops, making it more watchable and visually dynamic than most operas.
  2. I didn’t like the libretto which seemed to me constipated and clumsy.
  3. It was pretty undramatic. The opening choruses were great, but I wanted more dialogue, especially between the terrorists and captain.
  4.  The music was Adams’s soothing post-minimalism interrupted with blasts of vintage Glass. Very quaffable… F
  5. inally, although they were obviously only actors, I found I couldn’t applaud the ‘terrorists’ at the curtain call, after witnessing what they’d said and done.

The Death of Klinghoffer

John Adams: The Death of Klinghoffer (2001) – Night Chorus on YouTube

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