John Adams Writes an Opera for the Atomic Age

Composer John Adams

Composer John Adams Deborah O'Grady hide caption

itoggle caption Deborah O'Grady

The eagerly anticipated third opera from John Adams, Doctor Atomic, premiered Oct. 1 at the San Francisco Opera. Based on Richard Rhodes' book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Adams' work focuses on physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the project he led to create — and detonate — the first atomic bomb.

Gerald Finley as J. Robert Oppenheimer, left, in a scene from the world premiere of "Doctor Atomic." i i

Gerald Finley as J. Robert Oppenheimer, left, in a scene from the world premiere of Adams' Doctor Atomic. San Francisco Opera hide caption

itoggle caption San Francisco Opera
Gerald Finley as J. Robert Oppenheimer, left, in a scene from the world premiere of "Doctor Atomic."

Gerald Finley as J. Robert Oppenheimer, left, in a scene from the world premiere of Adams' Doctor Atomic.

San Francisco Opera

Adams, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his composition On the Transmigration of Souls, wrote Doctor Atomic with his longtime collaborator and librettist, Peter Sellars. Sellars drew from original source material, including personal memoirs, technical manuals of nuclear physics and declassified government documents.

Adams discusses Doctor Atomic and Alex Ross of The New Yorker offers a critical perspective.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.