Firestorm over Met opera hits fever pitch

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Firestorm over Met opera hits fever pitch
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Protesters demonstrate as people arrive for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the upcoming production of 'Death of Klinghoffer', which depicts the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, saying that the opera is anti-Semitic. The Met's general manager Peter Gelb has disputed the claim. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2014, file photo, protestors attend the arrivals at the Metropolitan Opera 2014-15 Season Opening in New York to register their disapproval of the Met's decision to premiere the controversial opera "The Death of Klinghoffer," later in the season. The opera, about the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer, is expected to attract more protesters when it opens Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Protesters shout as people arrive for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the upcoming production of 'Death of Klinghoffer', which depicts the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, saying that the opera is anti-Semitic. The Met's general manager Peter Gelb has disputed the claim. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Protestors attend the arrivals at Metropolitan Opera 2014-15 Season Opening on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York. The crowd was protesting the Met's decision to premiere a controversial opera "Death of Klinghoffer," about the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Protesters, many of them Jewish activists, demonstrate as people arrive for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the upcoming production of 'Death of Klinghoffer', which depicts the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, saying that the opera is anti-Semitic. The Met's general manager Peter Gelb has disputed the claim. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Protesters, many of them Jewish activists, demonstrate as people arrive for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the upcoming production of 'Death of Klinghoffer', which depicts the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, saying that the opera is anti-Semitic. The Met's general manager Peter Gelb has disputed the claim. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Protesters, many of them Jewish activists, demonstrate as people arrive for the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the upcoming production of 'Death of Klinghoffer', which depicts the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the killing of disabled passenger Leon Klinghoffer, saying that the opera is anti-Semitic. The Met's general manager Peter Gelb has disputed the claim. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Protestors attend the arrivals at Metropolitan Opera 2014-15 Season Opening on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York. The crowd was protesting the Met's decision to premiere a controversial opera "Death of Klinghoffer," in October about the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
In this Nov. 13, 2013 file photo, pedestrians stroll at dusk in front of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York's Lincoln Center. Fractious labor negotiations threaten to disrupt the Met's new season for the first time in more than 30 years. This week, the company's general manager, Peter Gelb, vowed to lock out union members _ cutting off pay and health insurance _ unless they settle before contracts expire July 31. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 photo, Layla Claire, right, performs as Helena alongside Elizabeth DeShong performing as Hermia during the final dress rehearsal of "The Enchanted Island," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. "The Enchanted Island" had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera on New Year's Eve Dec. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
In this March 25, 2013 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra performs during a rehearsal of Handel's "Giulio Cesare." (AP Photo/ Metropolitan Opera, Marty Sohl)
This Dec. 23, 2013 photo released by the Metropolitan Opera shows Danny Burstein as Frosch in Act 3 of Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus," in New York. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)
This image released by the Metropolitan Opera shows Olga Peretyatko during a dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, for Vincenzo Bellini's "I Puritani." The production opens on April 17 for a run of seven performances, ending on the last night of the season, May 10. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)
Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine conducts the MET Orchestra on May 18, 2013 during a rehearsal at Carnegie Hall. The Sunday, May 19 concert by the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall will mark Maestro Levine's first public performance in more than two years after being sideline by a spinal injury. The concert will be broadcast live on SIRIUS XM Channel 74 and streamed on the Met's Web site (metopera.org) beginning at 2:55 p.m. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Cory Weaver)
In this Feb. 26, 2013 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, a scene from Act II of Zandonai's "Francesca Da Rimini" is performed during a dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Marty Sohl)
The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center is lit at dusk, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
In this Dec. 13, 2012, photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, a scene from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" is performed during a dress rehearsal in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. The special holiday performance is being sung in English, by, from left, Rodion Pogossov as Figaro, Alek Shrader as Count Almaviva (disguised as Don Alonso), Isabel Leonard as Rosina, and John Del Carlo as Dr. Bartolo. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)
This Nov. 13, 2012 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera shows Barbara Frittoli as Vitellia and Elina Garanca as Sesto in a dress rehearsal of Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)
In this Dec. 24, 2012 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, Elza van den Heever is Elisabetta in Donizetti's "Maria Stuarda," during a dress rehearsal of Donizetti's "Maria Stuarda," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)
This Nov. 13, 2012 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera shows Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role of a dress rehearsal of Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)
In this April 3, 2012 photo, Korean soprano Hong Hei-Kyung as Violetta, performs during rehearsal for the Metropolitan Opera's "La Traviata," in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
In this Friday, March 23, 2012 photo, Anna Netrebko performs the title role during the final dress rehearsal of Jules Massenet's "Manon," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 photo, Placido Domingo performs as Neptune during the final dress rehearsal of "The Enchanted Island," at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. "The Enchanted Island" had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera on New Year's Eve Dec. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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By VERENA DOBNIK

NEW YORK (AP) - Some big-name politicians are joining Jewish protesters in a growing firestorm against an opera they say glorifies Palestinian terrorists.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gov. George Pataki and two U.S. congressmen are among hundreds expected outside the Metropolitan Opera on Monday to protest the Met premiere of "The Death of Klinghoffer."

It's based on the 1985 murder of a disabled Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, on the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship hijacked by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front. The 69-year-old New York retiree was shot in his wheelchair and pushed overboard.

Organizers plan to bring 100 symbolic wheelchairs to the rally at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.

The Met already has canceled its planned November movie theater and radio broadcasts of American composer John Adams' 1991 work amid pressure from Jewish groups - especially the Anti-Defamation League - whose members say the music romanticizes Klinghoffer's killers, along with the opening "Chorus of Exiled Palestinians."

Met General Manager Peter Gelb warned the broadcasts could trigger anti-Semitism overseas.

But opera expert Fred Plotkin says the work depicts the Klinghoffers as the moral backbone.

"Does this opera present the killers in a favorable light? No," he says. "Are the Klinghoffers far and away the most sympathetic characters in the opera, the ones we care about most? I believe so."

The opera has been a lightning rod since February, when it was first scheduled for this season.

The opposition is now reaching fever pitch, with word spreading that protesters may try to disrupt Monday's performance.

It's the second large New York demonstration against the work since the Met's Sept. 22 season opening night, when protesters carried signs that read "Klinghoffer Opera/Propaganda Masquerading as Art" and jeered at arriving spectators.

Plotkin notes that many "Klinghoffer" opponents have never seen the work.

The Met is advertising it with the slogan: "See it. Then decide."

"The Death of Klinghoffer" was first premiered in Brussels in 1991, with little controversy, then in various European cities as well as at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where it was greeted with both praise and anger - especially from Klinghoffer's two daughters.

"The Death of Klinghoffer" runs through Nov. 15 at the Met.

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