Opera On 3 - John Adams's Doctor Atomic

Episodes

First
Broadcast
Comments
20170603

John Adams conducts Doctor Atomic with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers.

John Adams conducts his opera Doctor Atomic at the Barbican with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and star cast including baritone Gerald Finley as Dr J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Presented by Andrew McGregor

John Adams:
Doctor Atomic Act 1

7.30pm Interval: Andrew McGregor talks to John Adams about the creation of the opera, and discusses John Adams at 70 with Alex Ross, the music critic of the New Yorker and author of "The Rest Is Noise."

Doctor Atomic Act 2

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer....Gerald Finley (baritone)
Kitty....Julia Bullock (soprano)
Edward Teller....Brindley Sherratt (bass)
Robert Wilson, physicist....Andrew Staples (tenor)
Pasqualita....Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano)
General Leslie Groves....Aubrey Allicock (bass-baritone)
Jack Hubbard....Marcus Farnsworth (baritone)
Captain James Nolan....Samuel Sakker (tenor)
BBC Singers
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Chorus Master: Matthew Morley
Director: Kenneth Richardson
John Adams (conductor)

John Adams conducts his 2005 operatic docudrama about Dr J Robert Oppenheimer and the first detonation of an atomic bomb in the desert near Los Alamos, New Mexico, on 16 July 1945. A troubling and ever-contemporary story, Adams follows the characters involved in the Manhattan Project over two days: an evening in June 1945 and night of the test itself. The libretto, created by Peter Sellars, draws on original source material, including personal memoirs, recorded interviews, technical manuals of nuclear physics, declassified government documents and poetry.

This performance was recorded at the Barbican on 25 April, to great acclaim. In the words of The Guardian: "You couldn't fault the performance. Adams's conducting, second to none in his own music, had tremendous conviction and unique authority, with every facet of the score's terrible beauty laid bare. There was thrilling playing and choral singing from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Singers. Returning to the role he created in 2005, Gerald Finley conveyed Oppenheimer's moral agony with singing of great refinement and subtlety: Batter My Heart, in which scientific wonder gives way to the awareness of the enormity of what he is about to unleash, was overwhelming.".