Monday, November 24, 2008

Doctor Atomic, revisited

For those out there who were unable to see the ASO's performances of Doctor Atomic this past weekend or catch it during its recent run at the Met, this post serves as a look-what-you-missed compilation, brought to you by the magic of YouTube. These scenes are taken from the DVD, released this September, of the production directed by librettist Peter Sellars at The Netherlands Opera (hence the Dutch subtitles; just ignore those).

Much of the casting was the same from that production to ours, but these clips feature only Jessica Rivera (Kitty Oppenheimer) and Gerald Finley (J. Robert Oppenheimer). Finley originated the role at the San Francisco Opera and has performed it in every production since: at the Netherlands Opera, seen here; with the Lyric Opera of Chicago; the Metropolitan Opera; the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and, in early 2009, he will appear in the role of Oppenheimer with the English National Opera.

If you did happen to see the semi-staged production, directed by James Alexander, in Atlanta, you might appreciate the excerpts from the bedroom scene, rendered more coherently here -- and taking place in an actual bedroom. (Semi-staged productions are almost always at a disadvantage, and ours was no different.) "Batter my heart" remains one of the most intensely exciting, wrenching arias ever written, and it was no less powerful in concertized form. The last clip is still more impossibly beautiful singing from Finley, my new favorite baritone. I haven't included any choral scenes in this rundown, mostly because we were much better than the chorus in Amsterdam.

The first two clips compose the bulk of the bedroom scene between Kitty and Oppenheimer. "Batter my heart" concludes the first act. "To what benevolent demon" comes late in the second act, just as the final countdown is about to begin.

"Am I in your light" - Jessica Rivera

"Long let me inhale deeply" - Gerald Finley

"Batter my heart" - Gerald Finley

"To what benevolent demon" - Gerald Finley

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