The Death of Klinghoffer the Death of Me

Kate asked if I wanted to go and gave a note with the time she was stipulating for us to meet up at the queue for tickets for that night’s last performance of The Death of Klinghoffer at the Coliseum clearly squared: 9:00. This is Kate’s way of doing things to save money.

I set the alarm early though I’ve been known to sleep through alarms. Anxiety not to sleep in and stand her up as I’d done before (thus her precaution of meeting me at the queue rather than herself buying two tickets and having me …well, stand her up again, a position by phone she’d quickly rectify by summoning up some accompanier else) didn’t clock in until five, after which I couldn’t get back to sleep, so up, as usual, in time to put the alarm off.

I hadn’t been able to check night before from what I had where the Coliseum exactly was but had a rough idea. I wasn’t exactly sure how long it’d take to get to Leicester Square either. From a clock, I was arriving at the opera house front at twenty to nine, far too early, only to realise on closer inspection of the clock face, it was twenty past eight. I’d forty minutes to wait for Kate. If only I’d known… but Kate waved.

We were joined in the queue by a man who asked where we were sitting after booking and we never saw again. The tickets cost £16 each for seats Kate advised, only £3 cheaper she much later admitted than the balcony ones we could’ve booked by internet.

My catnap was interrupted by hammering from downstairs where Yvann’s old flat is being done up for a prospective tenant.

Kate buzzed at four thirty just as I was dropping off again and she had a glass and a half of New Zealand white.

I like John Adams’music. The opera started with two scenes, the first of the eviction by the Israelis of the Palestinians and the destruction rather than takeover of their homes. Walls razed. There was a later reference to a brick lined with moss and wool that was supposed to relate to that but the syntax was woolly. It was the hole the brick had left that was meant to be lined with wool and moss and that wall had been completely demolished. There was an attempt to tie the gyrating fanatic who shoots Klinghoffer to this traumatising general event by dance instead of dramatic confrontation in sung words. The mother sang over him. There was a lot of standing about and slow walking while the story was not being adequately shown on stage by action but by background information on electronic boards which inter alia apprised one of the fact the person behind this terrorist act was also the person used historically to end it. That did not come across from anything on stage. The words sung were also very little to any point, being vaguely metaphoric and would-be symbolic, about birds as well as bricks. The singing was declamation. At the end the captain sang while Klinghoffer’s wife remained silent when she should’ve been involved more than by gesture. She herself did get to declaim uninterruptedly, how she should’ve been killed instead because she’d wanted to die though there was no evidence from what had gone before she had. There was evidence to the contrary her husband would’ve resisted since he was killed – twice – without resistance – either time. Both times the terrorist slowly walked up to the back of Klinghoffer’s head to resounding music. Whether she was wishfully thinking and actually relieved, whether sincerely grieving or not, or both, wasn’t gone into in any way. After Klinghoffer’s death, his body was replaced by a dancer who was symbolically thrown about a bit and – perhaps – thrown overboard by the crew while Klinghoffer himself declaimed. She’d said something about heaven or something, as part of her wishful thinking as maybe, and K’s declamation was perhaps supportive of that though the terrorists also had a line on God’s justification of them so …God knows what was the unachieved artistic aim of this ungelling mishmash which wasted a lot of money and effort in the making. There was one scene in which two almost naked young men turned into trees in a desert to the accompaniment of singing women which bore no very great relevance to the not very pertinent action that was not active enough to be dramatic. It was static as only minimalist opera can be and Kate said she’d never watch another even though Nixon in China might be the best. The young audience applauded enthusiastically.


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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