I felt I should weigh in momentarily on the “big event” happening in San Francisco this weekend. John Adams’ newest opera, Doctor Atomic, opens on Saturday, recounting the hours before the first test of the atomic bomb that would end World War II. Oppenheimer and other Los Alamos physicists await the test at the facility, while the women in their lives wait at home, worrying and wondering how the world is about to change. After seeing firsthand what Peter Sellars can do with emotionally and politically charged topics, I have no doubt that this opera will be a profound experience for all who are lucky enough to see it.
Over a fabulous brunch with MC in Santa Fe last month, we talked about why this particular premiere is garnering so much attention. (Music blogs have been abuzz for months now.) We decided that the combination of subject matter, anticipation to see what John Adams will write next, Peter Sellar’s involvement (he wrote the libretto as well as directed), and a few last-minute high-profile cast changes all serve to create an intriguing project that has everyone wishing they could be there Satuday night.
Now that I think about it, there are two other opera premieres that are in the spotlight right now: Margaret Garner at Michigan Opera Theater this past May (and An American Tragedy at the Met in December (not to mention Ainadamar this summer). (Margaret Garner is being staged this season by both Opera Carolina and the Opera Company of Philadalphia, providing the crucial "second" performances for a new work. Composers often say that it's easy to get new works performed once; it's getting them programmed again that's the struggle.) Could this be a sign of a renewed interest in new opera, and, therefore, in opera in general? Exciting times…
For more detailed coverage on this important new work, visit these sites.
*The San Francisco Opera’s Dr. Atomic site
*A great collection of Dr. Atomic Links at aworks.
*Alex Ross has put together a fabulous photojournal at The Rest is Noise. Pick up a copy of this week’s New Yorker for his article on the opera, written on an ironing board in a hotel in San Francisco…
*Thoughts from TSR during his New Mexico visit.
*Preview and links to articles at Ionarts
I know there are more. If you have something to add, leave it in comments and I’ll put it in.