Letter: Planned opera production offers opportunities

J. David Levy Clayton

As a long time supporter of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, a former president of JCRC and currently a member of the Advisory board of the Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations, I would like to comment on the recent article about OTSL’s scheduled production of “The Death of Klinghoffer.” I believe it is important to emphasize the positive steps that we, as a community, are taking in order to respond thoughtfully to an opera with sensitive subject matter.

OTSL has approached this event with great care and regard for the community at large. Yes, some of the initial content of the 1991 opera was problematic (and was removed years ago). Yes, the 1991 staging in Brooklyn was confusing. Yet, knowing the general and artistic leadership of OTSL, I believe that the St. Louis production will not offend and will instead give us an opportunity to explore an unhappy and symbolic moment in our history through the music of one of our nation’s most celebrated composers.


It does us no good to fear “outside forces” or to believe that this opera is offensive. Rather, I believe that this is a compelling work with a message that condemns a horrible, indefensible act of murder.

In the coming months our community has the opportunity to discuss this work of art in an inter-religious and cross-cultural forum that the JCRC, through the Newmark Institute, is collaborating on with Opera Theatre. We have the opportunity to speak together as a community regarding our mutual abhorrence of terrorism and our mutual desire for peace. That is an effort we can be proud of.