A Conversation with John Adams
Composer John Adams, recipient of the 2003 Pulitzer Prizer for Music, is considered by many to be America’s most eloquent composer. For nearly three decades, his music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language. He used the epochal visit of President Richard Nixon to China in 1972 as the basis of his highly-charged epic opera Nixon in China, which inaugurated a new genre of opera by aestheticizing the political through its abstraction as myth. It premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 1987, in a production by Peter Sellars choreographed by Mark Morris. On September 7, Academy Dean of Fellows Pamela Rosenberg sat down with Adams to talk about -- among much else -- both Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic, a work depicting Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb. Sometimes characterized as an “American Faust,” Doctor Atomic was commissioned by Rosenberg for inclusion in the "Faust" series she organized as General Director of the San Francisco Opera.