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Controversy surrounds John Adams' second opera, The Death of Klinghoffer. In transforming into art the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of aged Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer by Palestinian terrorists, Adams and librettist Alice Goodman have been accused of anti-Semitism and sympathizing with the terrorists. Other critics have praised Adams and Goodman for humanizing rather than demonizing the Palestinians, and for illuminating the strange impetus that drives a human being to murder another human being in the name of faith. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is set to stage the first U.S. production of The Death of Klinghoffer since its debut in 1991, but not without the input of an interfaith coalition of Christians, Jews and Muslims that has constructed a study guide and facilitated public discussions of the incident and the opera. This is what great art is supposed to do: It provokes, it confronts and it foments dialogue. The Death of Klinghoffer is performed at 8 p.m. at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; 314-961-0644 or www.opera-stl.org), and then five more times in repertory. Tickets are $25 to $120.
Wed., June 15, 2011

 
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This powerful and emotional production is not limited to the events of 1985, but explores in mythical and religious terms the two peoples' historic connections to the land over time, expressed in lyrical language and music. The staging uses doubled choruses and props to dramatically play with the audience's preconceptions, and always honors the losses of ordinary people caught in war or terrorist acts. Our group of eight found it thrilling, by far the most moving production of the season.

 
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