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October 28, 2009

Inserting Anti-Israel Messages Into Grand Opera Productions

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Scene from Flimm's staging of Moïse et Pharaon (Moses and Pharaoh) at Salzburg Opera Festival

The tentacles of those who would defame Israel reach out to just about everywhere in the news and entertainment media. The glorious world of grand opera is not immune to this dynamic of distortions and falsehoods. An example from early this year was a performance of composer John Adams’ opera The Death of Klinghoffer.

A more recent example of this dynamic is a politicized version of the opera Moses and Pharaoh composed by Gioachino Rossini, the great 19th century Italian opera master, and first performed in 1827. The recent production of the opera was staged in August 2009 at the prestigious Salzburg (Austria) Opera Festival by the Festival’s director, Jurgen Flimm. The November 2009 issue of Opera News magazine (published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild) described the anti-Israel message of Mr. Flimm’s production:

In interviews, Flimm had announced that the biblical story couldn't be told today without mentioning the ongoing conflict between Jews and Arabs. So instead of watching dancers during the ballet music, we had to read quotations from the Bible on the closed curtain, demonstrating the vindictiveness of the Hebrew god. When the "ballet" was over and the curtain rose again, the stage was covered with dead children — probably an allusion to the Gaza war. To balance the message, the Israelites arrived for the finale with suitcases filled with ashes. No Red Sea had to be crossed; they simply disappeared through a back door.

Posted by MK at October 28, 2009 10:31 AM

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