I Am Become Death
Could there be a more perfect fusion of opera and venue than Doctor Atomic at The Santa Fe Opera? First performed in 2005, this influential work reunited composer John Adams with librettist and stage director Peter Sellars, whose earlier collaborations include Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. This new production, staged by Sellars, also marks the first John Adams work to be performed by the company.
Doctor Atomic takes place in Los Alamos during the summer of 1945, leading up to the detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site outside Alamogordo. The text is a mosaic drawn from declassified government documents, participant letters and interviews, poetry by Baudelaire and Muriel Rukeyser, John Donne’s “Holy Sonnets,” the Hindu Bhagavad Gītā, and a hauntingly prophetic Native American song. John Adams describes his inspiration for the score as “the science-fiction movie music of the 1950s, which I watched as a little kid on black and white television. I remember how many started with some nuclear test in the desert…and the kind of fear that I felt growing up in the 1950s and 60s.” Relive that tension with the lights of Los Alamos as the backdrop.
Peter Sellars, drawn from original sources
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“[Doctor Atomic] stands as a major addition to the operatic repertory of this new century, the first to be inaugurated with the specter of instant death very much around us.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
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