Friday, April 15, 2005

An Opera about the Atomic Bomb

Dr. Atomic

July 1945. The war is in its final, terrible phase. Germany has surrendered but Japan will fight to the bitter end, costing possibly a half million casualties. In the New Mexico desert a group of young physicists, hand-picked and led by the brilliant, complex J. Robert Oppenheimer, have labored furiously in a race against Hitler to develop the world's first atomic bomb. Now, in the hours before the first test explosion, they are confronted with the moral crisis of its inevitable use on Japanese citizens.

Sounds. The hallmarks of John Adams's musical imagination-soaring vocal lines, richly colored orchestra and pulsating rhythms-are fueled by a subject of vast human drama.

Sights. Against a backdrop of desert solitude and scorched landscapes, the stage becomes both a laboratory of apocalyptic science and ground zero for a new millennium in human history.

Stories. No one knows whether the bomb will work, and if it does, whether it might ignite the entire earth's atmosphere. In the unbearable tension of the final hours, only the women, forbidden from the test area, seem to realize the magnitude of its consequences.

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