Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 24, 2014

Political Minimalism and “The Death of Klinghoffer”

Filed under: Counterpunch,music — louisproyect @ 5:21 pm

Night Chorus

When Rambo Met Klinghoffer on Club Med

Political Minimalism and “The Death of Klinghoffer”


Since I could not justify spending hundreds of dollars for tickets to “The Death of Klinghoffer” at the Met, I did the next best thing, which was to take out a CD from the Columbia University library. Something told me that the work was a bit off, so I wanted to reduce my financial liability to a minimum—the price of a subway ride back and forth from my old workplace.

My goal was to come to terms with the opera as an artistic/political statement rather than comment on Zionist attempts to squelch it, as ably reported by Bill Dobbs in CounterPunch.

I first became aware of composer John Adams back in the 1970s when I was always on the lookout for works by minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Since Adams was touted at the time as the new kid on the block, I made sure to pick up a recording of “Shaker Loops” when it came out in 1987, a piece like most of Reich and Glass that was calculated to appeal to the average listener as a kind of ear candy. As the classical music counterpart to Kraftwerk or Brian Eno, minimalism was about as close as you could come to the pleasure of pre-20th century classical music, joined on these terms later on by the neo-romanticism of composers like Henry Górecki.

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  1. Um, Louis? A ticket to the Met costs 25 bucks.

    Comment by Dabrowski — October 24, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

  2. With my cataracts, I might as well stay home than trying to see things from the balcony–a half-mile away at least.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 24, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

  3. Fair enough, though maybe binoculars would help? The sound is good in the balcony, and also in the Family Circle (which is where the cheap seats are). It is true that the house is too big, seating 3,800. Even some of the good singers sometimes have difficulty projecting in that much space. One giant exception is Netrebko, who sounds like she’s right in front of your face no matter where you’re sitting, and sounds exquisite, but she is one of those rare celebrities whose talent justifies the hype.

    Opera is very different from production to production. I have seen pieces of the Woolcock film, but can’t make it to NYC until next month, when I will see this production in person. Have you read Said’s review of the original production at BAM in 1991? In the November 11, 1991 issue of The Nation. The Met production is very different from that one.

    Comment by Dabrowski — October 24, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

  4. I am very interested in what Said had to say. Thanks for the tip.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 24, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

  5. Thanks for this. Read John Adams’ memoirs if you want to see smug liberalism at its worst.

    Comment by Jonathan Koch — October 25, 2014 @ 1:04 am

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