Thursday, September 29, 2005

Feels like the first time

Last night, we went to the opera for the first time. It was an interesting choice for a first opera: the very modern, world-premiere production of Doctor Atomic. The site sums it up better than I can, but in short, it is set in 1945 New Mexico as scientists race to build, test, and possibly use the first atomic weapon. The plot centers around the moral issues involved in building the weapon, its use on other humans, and the genuine fear of simply not really knowing what it would actually do (the opera makes reference to a theory that it could have potentially ignited the atmosphere, literally killing the world).

We were invited as guests of the director (felt semi-important for a minute there!) to the final dress rehearsal, so there were producers scurrying around throughout the performance, checking light and sound levels, making copious notes, and generally taking me out of the moment. The music is amazing: it is beautiful and soft one moment, then discordant and angry the next. Many of the vocalists were clearly not going "full volume" for the final dress, so it was tough to understand them sometimes, but Gerald Finley, in the role of Robert Oppenheimer, was outstanding.

We are thinking that we now need to go see something a little more classical before we make our final judgment on whether we can be "opera people," but this was certainly a fascinating introduction.

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