Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Dr. Atomic

In very, very short, Dr. Atomic was a letdown.  It was so built up in my mind, with all the talk of its radical libretto and dramatic background story.  I was ready for a mind-blowing first opera, both in the message that it would convey and the majesty of the actual performance.  I was shockingly underwhelmed.  As the brilliant stage lit up in stark light and growling music I stiffened my self in anticipation that there would be chills slipping up and down my spine from first note to last.  Fifteen minutes in and I was slumped, devoid of emotion and almost developing a headache.

Common colloquialisms should sometimes stay just that.  Forcing it into the grand style of opera was choppy and mismatched.  The few times my ears perked up were when poetry was employed to tell the story, especially in Katie and Dr. Openhimer’s bedroom scene.  The beautiful shadow lighting and brilliant color of the women’s dress enticed my eyes to zoom in and take notice, though they were quickly lost.  My eyes would unglazed for the occasional impressive video art or actor setup on the three story moving set and my ears would curve in when the music happened upon a moment when the libretto matched the orchestra, yet those moments were few and far between.

The beautiful intent seeped through the strange performance, letting you know that it could be a life-changing story if only the actors were allowed to speak.  In this case, the spoken word would have made the performance so much more powerful.  The final crushing blow that could have been a monumental one was the lack of the mushroom cloud.  An image that evokes so much in history and natural fear was completely shirked in favor of metaphor.  The audience was not the bomb, it was the opera that bombed.

1 comment

1 Yuriy Minchuk { 12.04.08 at 5:20 am }

Well-put. I absolutely agree. This was very well-written. Very descriptive and great use of vocabulary. You spelled Oppenheimer wrong though. Good job overall