American oil companies used to sponsor a lot of cultural programming. As the Saudis nationalized and began to take control, that has shifted.
The Saudis are not big opera buffs, but their regime spreads anti-Semitism around the world. And the Metropolitan Opera’s current decision to mount The Death of Klinghoffer, a widely denounced anti-Semitic modern opera in a season packed with productions that are rarely less than a century old, is a curious aberration.
The Metropolitan Opera’s manager Peter Gelb is predicting bankruptcy in two years as the Met has blown through a fortune, for example spending $169,000 on a poppy field used as opera scenery.
The Met is incapable of budgeting and its needs money badly.
Saudi Petroleum International is a local arm of Saudi Aramco and a significant donor to the Metropolitan Opera. The Saudi Minister of Petroleum, Ibrahim Al-Naimi, has even been listed on occasion as a principal sponsor.
The Met has increasingly been making its money from digital broadcasts, rather than theater performances, making it more reliant on international audiences. Its “Live in HD” digital broadcasts go out to countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, as well as to Dubai.
The HD business has become the Met’s bread and butter and like a lot of the luxury trade, it’s looking for a cut of the gushing wells of oil money from nouveau riche sheiks and princes.
Catering to their bigotry is not the classiest way to get it, but it certainly has a history of working.
The Metropolitan Opera’s high-definition cinema broadcast series is about to make another foray into the Middle East…
An Egyptian-born businessman, Mahmoud M. Abdallah, who sits on the Met’s board, helped broker the agreement with the National Cultural Center… The HD season begins on Oct. 9 with Wagner’s “Rheingold,” the first installment of the company’s new “Ring” cycle.
Like most of the American entertainment and culture institutions, the Met is increasingly looking abroad. The Death of Klinghoffer may strike American audiences, not to mention the Klinghoffer family, as hateful and exploitative, but it’s just adding more noise into the culture of anti-Semitism that has been so successfully cultivated in Europe and the Middle East.
The Metropolitan Opera is looking to profit from bigotry in the Middle East and Europe. It’s not the first cultural organization to discover that anti-Semitism sells tickets.