The Jerusalem Cinematheque has decided not to screen two works by composer Richard Wagner from the opera season of the New York Metropolitan Opera, which will be broadcast live beginning October 15.
Starting this year, the Jerusalem Cinematheque joins the 1,600 theaters throughout the world that already use sophisticated HD technology, to offer live broadcasts of a representative sampling from the season of the largest opera house in the United States, and one of the five most important ones in the world.
The general manager of the Met, Peter Gelb, said in an exclusive interview with Haaretz that the selection, which includes 11 operas, is a microcosm of the repertoire and a representation of the finest and newest productions, including debut productions. But an examination of the repertoire at the Jerusalem Cinematheque reveals only nine operas from the selection that will be broadcast worldwide.
The operas to be screened at the cinematheque are: "Anna Bolena" by Donizetti (for the first time at the Met ), Mozart's "Don Giovanni," "Satyagraha" by Philip Glass and operas by Handel, Verdi and Massenet. From a comparison with the original program, it turns out that the operas that will not be shown are both by Wagner: "Siegfried" and "Twilight of the Gods," which close the Nibelungen cycle, in entirely new productions.
"This is not censorship, neither artistic nor political," says Yigal Molad Hayo, director of the Jerusalem Cinematheque. "In discussions with Peter Gelb, he on his own initiative drew my attention to the Wagner operas included in the program, and on his own initiative suggested to us and enabled us to skip them, if we so decide, although the broadcasting of the entire repertoire is a condition for all the franchisees in the world. The board of directors held a consultation, and after turning both to those in favor and those opposed, we decided that at least during the first season, in order to prevent hurting people who declared that they would be hurt, we won't broadcast those operas."
When questioned by Haaretz on the issue, Gelb replied: "I was aware of the sensitivity of the Wagner operas being shown and therefore told them that they didn't have to carry them, although of course we would prefer if they did."
When asked why the cinematheque will not allow those who are interested to fulfill a basic civic right to an artistic experience, since the cinematheque is not an official institution, Molad Hayo replied: "The desire not to hurt is more important than the right to watch, and although we aren't an official institution, we are a public and educational institution that benefits from government support; and in the calculation of cost/benefit, we decided that the cost of being hurt that certain people pay would be too high compared to our desire to make the broadcast available to everyone. At the moment we are discussing a suggestion to sell a DVD of those operas at a token cost, thereby enabling those who wish to watch them to do so freely at home."