Former Met patron used money earmarked for Met to fund protest against it in response to Klinghoffer opera.
Leonard Weiss is a New York businessman who loves opera and has been a patron of the Metropolitan Opera for years. Weiss has attended many of the Met’s opening night galas, and has been on every Met patron’s summer trip to attend performances at European opera houses.
Weiss has had the same parterre box at the Met for over 25 years, and has participated in many Metropolitan Opera events.
But all that is a thing of the past.
According to a letter Weiss sent to Ann Ziff, this year’s Metropolitan Opera Gala Chairman, Weiss is finished being a patron of the Met. That is because Peter Gelb, the Met’s managing director, chose to put on the falsely named “Death of Klinghoffer” opera.
All of Weiss’s active support for the Met “has come to a screeching halt due to the contemptible behavior of Peter Gelb. He has to be deaf, dumb and blind to insist that the opera written by a composer who has a belligerent attitude toward Israel and the Jews, and an outright anti-Semite, Alice Goodman, an apostate, to say that he sees no sign of anything that is anti-Israel or pro-terrorism in the opera,” Weiss wrote in his letter to Ziff, dated Sept. 22.
Weiss goes on in this vein for another paragraph, hypothesizing that perhaps the same people who created the Klinghoffer opera might be planning another one glorifying ISIS and “putting a spin on it to excuse the savage beheading committed by the same type of terrorists who are ideological descendants of Klinghoffer’s murderers.”
Weiss then turns from criticism to a description of the action he has taken in response to what he criticized. Weiss informed the Met that he used the money he had planned to donate to the Met this year for something else.
I personally was responsible for funding the demonstration on opening night. [see The Jewish Press coverage of thedemonstration.] It was rather costly but that money had been earmarked as a contribution to the Met. I have told all of the people who thanked me that their thanks should go to the Metropolitan Opera Co.
Weiss sent his letter to Ziff on Sept. 24. To date he has received no answer, not even the form letter received by many who wrote the Met to criticize its decision to stage the Klinghoffer opera. But Weiss doesn’t need an answer from the Met unless it is one that announces the decision not to stage the Klinghoffer opera.
The Klinghoffer opera was sponsored at the Met by an anonymous donor “in honor of John Adams,” the opera’s composer. The protest against the opera was funded by someone who is not embarrassed to have his name associated with a cause he believes in.
Thanks in large part to Leonard Weiss, the Sept. 22 demonstration in front of the Metropolitan Opera was huge. That is what you call putting your money where your mouth is.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.