John Adams Doctor Atomic Analysis

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The opera Doctor Atomic by composer John Adams dramatizes the strenuous anxieties surrounding the Manhattan Project 's creation of the atomic bomb. The opera’s libretto using original sources, features in their own words the described tensions among the scientists involved in making the bomb. The 3-and-a-half-hour production follows the father of the atomic bomb, theatrical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, as he wrestles with “the pull between scientific rectitude and mass murder” while overseeing the creation and testing of the first atomic bomb. The story builds up from the exposition and rises in suspense by plot and composition alike until its mere end with the beginning of a new atomic era. Musically, John Adams brings his minimalist background …show more content…
The libretto was developed from archival material such as declassified government documents and first-hand personal narratives. Critics of the opera attack this form of story writing by stating that the words were “pedestrian, speechifying, and painfully simplistic,” and that, " ‘singing’ relentlessly dull prose does not raise it to the level of art.” Adams answered these critics in an interview explaining “I suspect that opera purists and critics looking for something to hate about this will probably first latch onto the libretto, (but) the way that Peter put it together has enormous theatrical tension…in this opera the scientists really are arguing.” Being it the first opera I have ever watched, and being an avid listener of popular music, this was a brand new experience for me. I didn’t realize how unusual the libretto was until researching about it, but this was because the libretto was put together well. Sure, the beginning threw me off a little with laws of physics as the opening scene, but I felt like the quotes from Oppenheimer and Teller were intertwined beautifully with their own real passions for poetry. There was a bit of scientific jargon but it was blended into the prose in a subtle way that lets the story flow

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