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John Adams's "The Death of Klinghoffer" Receives London Premiere in ENO Production Directed by Tom Morris

John Adams, "The Death of Klinghoffer" [cover]
John Adams's opera The Death of Klinghoffer, featuring a libretto by Alice Goodman, receives its London premiere in seven performances by the English National Opera, led by conductor Baldur Brönniman, starting this Saturday, February 25, and running through March 9. The production follows ENO's highly successful productions of Adams' operas Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic. The award-winning director Tom Morris (War Horse) makes his opera directing debut in leading the London stage premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer, a poetic retelling of the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and the killing of a Jewish-American tourist by Palestinian militants. Following its 1991 premiere, the New York Times said the work “transmutes contemporary history into operatic poetry.” Nonesuch Records released the first recording of the work in 1992.

The opera and the ENO production were recently featured on BBC Radio 3's Music Matters. Adams and Goodman talk with host Tom Service about the controversial opera and the reception previous productions have met. (Goodman discusses this further and the impact it had on her personally in an article in the Guardian.) Service also heads to the ENO rehearsal space to talk with Morris and Brönniman about their vision for Klinghoffer in its new production at English National Opera, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 later this year. Listen to episode at

Tom Morris also discusses the opera in the video trailer from ENO below, featuring music from the original Nonesuch recording of The Death of Klinghoffer and footage from the 2003 Channel 4 film adaptation by director Penny Woolcock. Morris, reflecting on the opera's controversial subject matter, recommends that audiences give its creators "the space to explore that conflict and both sides of it across the whole evening, because, in the end, it is, I think, powerfully even-handed. But in order to be so, it's very vivid in allowing its characters to express their side of the argument. And I think that's how we understand things, and I think that we understand more about that conflict and other conflicts by trusting the instincts of Alice Goodman as librettist and John Adams as composer in response to those events."

Hear more of what Morris has to say in the ENO trailer here:

For more information and tickets, go to


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