Great Performances

Season 37 Episode 6

Great Performances at the Met: Doctor Atomic

0
Aired Unknown Dec 29, 2008 on PBS
6.7
out of 10
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2 votes
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Episode Summary

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Great Performances at the Met: Doctor Atomic
AIRED:
John Adams' 1991 opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the inventor of the atomic bomb.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Certainly unique but a truly weird mixture of medium and message for me.

    4.4
    An opera that traces the thinking of the scientific community during the early Atomic Era.



    It might be just me, but the politics and moral questions surrounding the development of the Atomic Bomb just don't lend themselves to opera. The performance here is competent but very strange - ethical prose spouted to music is fairly painful to witness and I gave it my all. Imagine a baritone Oppenheimer singing "it (the bomb) will be USED...and no AGREEments... will...HELP". Tough going.



    On the other hand, the set and staging is innovative - tenors, bass, contraltos and sopranos fill in the voices of the other scientists and people in Oppenheimer's personal life. For much of the first half hour, many of the performers are located in towering three-tiered shelves of "cubbyholes", almost like a massive library stack of intellectual opinion. Oddly, a second act in Oppenheimer's bedroom, where he reveals his humanity and romantic nature to his wife is marked with embraces and rolls on the bed where she carries a lit cigarette the entire time.



    Maybe this is personal taste, some critics loved this, as well as Adam's operatic version of "Nixon in China".moreless
Gerald Finley

Gerald Finley

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Guest Star

Sasha Cooke

Sasha Cooke

Kitty Oppenheimer

Guest Star

Richard Paul Fink

Richard Paul Fink

Edward Teller

Guest Star

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