Opera in Two Acts (2004-5)
Music by John Adams. Libretto by Peter Sellars based on original source material.
First performance October 1, 2005, San Francisco Opera.
Original staging by Peter Sellars; music direction by Donald Runnicles; sets by Adrienne Lobel; lighting by James F. Ingalls; choreography by Lucinda Childs; sound design by Mark Grey; chorus direction by Ian Robertson
Cast: Gerald Finley (J. Robert Oppenheimer), Kristine Jepson (Kitty Oppenheimer), Richard Paul Fink (Edward Teller), Eric Owens (General Groves), Thomas Glenn (Robert Wilson), Beth Clayton (Pasqualita); James Maddelena (Frank Hubbard), Jay Hunter Morris (Captain Nolan)
Commissioned by the San Francisco Opera.
Score dedicated to Bob Hurwitz (dear friend, reader of history)
Performance information available from Boosey & Hawkes.
Additional performances: Netherlands Opera (June 2007), Chicago Lyric Opera (December-January, 2007-8), Metropolitan Opera (October-November 2008); English National Opera (March 2009).
The Metropolitan Opera and the English Nation Opera productions were directed by Penny Woolcock with stage design by Julian Crouch. The Met’s live high-definition telecast was seen throughout the world during November of 2008.
A new DVD of the original Peter Sellars production, made during the Amsterdam production is available on Newvideo. Wonders Are Many, a documentary about the making of Doctor Atomic, is now available on an Opus Arte DVD.
"Doctor Atomic Symphony," based on orchestral music from the opera: first performance by the Saint Louis Symphony, David Robertson, conductor, March 16, 2007
"The October premiere of John Adams's 'Doctor Atomic' at the San Francisco Opera must surely be considered the musical event of the year in America." ( Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times)
Doctor Atomic is the fifth work for the stage that Adams and his longtime collaborator of nearly twenty years, Peter Sellars, have created. Beginning with Nixon in China (Houston, 1987), Adams and Sellars have created The Death of Klinghoffer (Brussells, 1991), I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky (Berkeley, 1995) and El Niño (Paris, 2000).
Doctor Atomic concerns the final hours leading up to the first atomic bomb explosion at the Alamagordo test site in New Mexico in July of 1945. The focal characters are the physicist and Manhattan Project director, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer; his wife Kitty; Edward Teller; and General Leslie Groves, the US Army commander of the project. The theme for this opera was suggested to Adams by Pamela Rosenberg, General Director of the San Franciso Opera.
The libretto of Doctor Atomic was created by Peter Sellars, drawing on original source material, including personal memoirs, recorded interviews, technical manuals of nuclear physics, declassified government documents, and the poetry of Muriel Rukeyser, an American poet and contemporary of Oppenheimer.
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