The Death of Klinghoffer ‘ought to be seen’

The English National Opera’s new production of John Adams’s the Death of Klinghoffer, which opened at the London Coliseum on Saturday (February 25th), could be a show those staying in hotel accommodation in London should make sure they catch during their visit to the capital, if early reviews are anything to go by.

Addressing the relations between Jews and Arabs through the re-telling of the real-life story of the high-jacking of the Achille Lauro cruise liner in 1985, the opera has frequently been the subject of controversy, which is one of the main reasons it has taken it 20 years to come to the London stage.

But according to Richard Fairman, reviewing the production for the Financial Times, it is Adams’s incredible score, rather than any political message, that makes the opera something than everyone “ought to see”.

“Adams’s music refuses to let go, pulling the audience deeper and deeper into the emotional conflicts of the story,” he commented.

“The choruses of Palestinian and Jewish exiles resonate with the anguish of centuries past and the anxieties of the hostages are portrayed with an expressive immediacy hardly less involving.”

Adams, who other works include the hugely successful operas Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic, has built a reputation for a minimalist style, but this is something he abandons in the Death of Klinghoffer, said Mr Fairman.

“There is no minimalist note-spinning here. This is a masterful score and Adams at his best,” he said.

This is a view echoed by other reviewers, including the Telegraph’s Rupert Christiansen.

“Alice Goodman’s ambitiously poetic text is married to a score in which Adams moves decisively away from the system-driven procedures of minimalism towards something freer-flowing and more complexly expressive,” said the critic.

The Death of Klinghoffer runs until March 9th, with tickets on sale from £19.

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