March 19, 1991
The Death of Klinghoffer
Composer:John Adams
Librettist:Alice Goodman
The cruise liner Achille Lauro has been hijacked by four Palestinian men. A waiter has been shot, the ship's engines have been shut down, and the first officer has a gun pointed at his head. The Captain encourages the passengers, Americans, Britons, and Jews, to remain calm. The Captain is guarded on the bridge by Mamoud, who sings of his memories. The ship awaits permission to dock at the Syrian port of Tartus. The passengers have been moved to a platform where a helicopter might be able to land. Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew, is confined to a wheelchair and is unable to be lifted onto the platform. Omar, another Palestinian, invokes the holy death he longs for. To emphasize the seriousness of their claims, the Palestinians shoot Klinghoffer and throw his body over the side of the ship. The Captain informs the authorities of the death and the possibility of further deaths of hostages. Molqi decides that no further killing is necessary, and negotiations with authorities commence. It is agreed that the ship will proceed to Alexandria, where the Palestinians will be allowed to disembark. The Captain informs Mrs. Klinghoffer of her husband's death.

Click company name to view productions details.
Metropolitan OperaThe Death of Klinghoffer10/10/2014 - 11/14/2014
Long Beach OperaThe Death of Klinghoffer3/3/2014 - 3/22/2014
Opera Theatre of Saint LouisThe Death of Klinghoffer6/25/2011 - 6/25/2011
Curtis Institute of MusicThe Death of Klinghoffer2/1/2005 - 2/18/2005
San Francisco OperaThe Death of Klinghoffer11/1/1992 - 11/23/1992

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Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Neo-romantic lyricism; neo-minimalist; some acerbic harmonies; conventional and electronic instruments; amplification of the singers and instruments; alternating choral and solo declamations

Vocal & Musical Forces
Soprano, Mezzo-Sopranos, Contralto, Tenors, 3 Baritones, Bass; SATB Chorus min. 24; Dancers doubling singing roles

Original Cast
Captain of the Archille Lauro, James Maddalena
Klinghoffer/Harry Rumor, Sanford Sylvan
Mamoud, Eugene Perry
Alma Rumor/Omar, Stephanie Friedman
Jonathan Rumor/Molqi, Thomas Young
Swiss Grandmother/Austrian Woman, Janice Felty
First Officer/Rambo, Thomas Hammons
Marilyn Klinghoffer, Sheila Nadler

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