Magazine article Opera Canada

English National Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

English National Opera

Article excerpt

The U.K. debut in February of John Adams's Doctor Atomic at English National Opera was not an occasion I approached with great relish, having been depressed by Nixon in China and not greatly impressed by other Adams scores. But in the event, 1 would urge everyone to go see Penny Woolcock's breathtaking production when it is next within reach. This is not a minimalist work--the use of ostinato is as unmannered as in neo-classical Stravinsky. This is singers' music, richly melodic but entirely contemporary, with a personal voice and subtle orchestration. Balance, under the guidance of conductor Lawrence Renes, was exemplary.

One could easily list shortcomings, starting with the fact that yet again we are invited to agonize about Robert Oppenheimer's conscience rather than the consequences of the bomb he created. This is paradoxically balanced by the failure of Peter Sellars' verbose libretto to give Oppenheimer any engaging humanity. …

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