Is there any possible reason why an opera with this power and deeply moral message should be protested?
Protests raged the other night when the opera The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams was performed at the Metropolitan Opera. It is good to protest operas that incite hatred, ask us to think about evil people, contain offensive stereotypes, or marginalize anyone.
But if you want to do away with Klinghoffer, moral consistency requires that you boycott the following operas too, or possibly burn their scores . . .
You must never again attend performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which depicts the exploits of a serial sexual offender and promotes the patriarchy.
You must also stop attending performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo, which presents Spanish people in a very negative way. One character, Posa, is murdered violently right on stage, just because he was advocating the rights of the Flemish. You can’t sit by and watch that – let’s toss the scores.
It is also time for you to line up to protest future performances of Britten’s Peter Grimes, which has a title character who is a child abuser. How this work made it into the standard repertoire is a moral outrage. Come to think of it, you better boycott Billy Budd too. It has homoerotic themes and will corrupt everyone.
Moral consistency also demands that you stop watching Bizet’s Carmen,which portrays Roma people as murderous and promiscuous.
Gounod’s Faust must be done away with too. The title character wishes to become young again, and does so. That is an ageist message that no thinking person, like you, should tolerate.
Moral consistency also demands that you attend and disrupt all future performances of Verdi’s Aida, which only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes of Egyptians as militaristic monsters. Come to think of it, Aida also portrays Ethiopians as slaves! And Amonasro, the king of Ethiopia, is so sneaky! Raise your voice in protest.
You must also protest all operas in which women portray men in “trouser roles,” including Beethoven’s Fidelio and Strauss’s der Rosenkavalier.If young people who are experiencing feelings of sexual or gender confusion attend performances, these morally depraved works are sure to convince them that cross-dressing is permissible. And of course, you cannot have that. The moral fiber of our society will decay.
You should do away with Mozart’s The Magic Flute too, and right now! The plot, in which the Queen of the Night is humbled by a “wise” man named Sarastro, is virulently anti-feminist. The opera also has a black character who is portrayed as licentious and servile. You cannot have that, can you?
It’s also time to boycott Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers, which perpetuate negative stereotypes of Arabs and Turkish people.
You better stop attending performances of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godonov too. Its title character becomes Czar after murdering his nephews. What kind of message does that send to young watchers, and what kind of negative things does it say about Russian people? If young people are exposed to this work, they will immediately start murdering people and running for office.
You Want to Boycott? Boycott!
America is a free country. Opera is a free art form. So boycott and protest all you want. But I’m here to tell you that after you do away with all the operas that offend you, you aren’t going to have too many stimulating nights at the opera. You’ll only be able to attend performances of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, over and over again. Come to think of it, you can’t see that opera either. It says bad things about witches.
Outstanding! I *knew* there was a reason I often had qualms about operas. Isn't "waiting for the fat lady to sing" damn offensive as well!? And Barry probably just scratched the surface. And why stop at operas? Shouldn't many of Shakespeare's works that didn't make it into a libretto also be banned? Other playwrights, poets and novelists? Painters, sculptors? Hell, let's ban the arts – lest we offend someone. (I can hear black flags fluttering ominously in the desert…)
Dear Pierre, Many thanks for your very kind and wise comment. If you and I began to list all the books, movies, paintings, and poems that could prove offensive to anyone, . . . well, as soon as people start thinking that art will corrupt anyone, they are making a big mistake. Has burning books ever led to a more enlightened society? People don' t need to be protected from art, only exposed to it.