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Discord Clouds Opera Team

September 09, 1991|PETER CATALANO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEW YORK — Reports of strife within the artistic team behind the new John Adams opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" indicate that future collaborations among Adams, librettist Alice Goodman, director Peter Sellars and choreographer Mark Morris are doubtful.

Adams and Goodman have been spatting in the press, even though they conspicuously embraced at opening-night curtain calls.

Word of dissension between Adams and Goodman first emerged last March in Brussels during the world premiere of "Klinghoffer." But their conflict is now taking place in public.

In a nine-page account in the current issue of Harvard magazine titled "The Birth of 'The Death of Klinghoffer,' " Adams complained: "The libretto arrived in unpredictable installments and not always in sequential order, which meant that I sometimes ended up discarding my first sketches. The pressure to keep the creative work on schedule was unrelieved. Almost from the start anxious phone calls and troublesome faxes began littering my physical and mental space, and eventually I threw my answering machine away and stopped reloading the fax machine."

On Sept. 1, the Boston Globe published what sounded like Goodman's response. "By the time this opera was in rehearsal, John and I were not speaking," said Goodman. "By the time, we actually met, the atmosphere was fraught, and now we speak to each other only through interviews."

For his part Sellars has been playing the diplomat and mediator among his associates. After Saturday's performance of "Klinghoffer" he said the conflict between Goodman and Adams has "been greatly exaggerated."

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