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<<<  <<  -- 4 --  Malcolm Miller    CONVINCING AND MOVING

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Kitty's Act II aria is a beguiling lullaby built on simple, almost banal rising octave and third intervals, placed high in the tessitura and enhanced by some mellow horn solos. Though beautifully sung by Jessica Rivera, it seemed to be spun out rather too long, while the folkish lullaby sung repeatedly by the children's nanny Pasqualita (Ellen Rabiner) also seemed over-used, and sentimental.

Pasqualita (Ellen Rabiner) and Kitty Oppenheimer (Jessica Rivera). Photo © 2007 Marco Borggreve
Pasqualita (Ellen Rabiner) and Kitty Oppenheimer (Jessica Rivera). Photo © 2007 Marco Borggreve

Throughout the opera Adrianne Lobel's set design was impressive, the large stage open to a wide horizon, shaded by James Ingalis' evocative lighting, in either orange, yellow or, for the night, violet translucence. Lucinda Childs' choreography was generous, with dancers frequently running across the stage, with and without suitcases, dressed as soldiers or in other forties costumes colourfully designed by Dunya Ramicova, and also regularly dancing in circles, as if to emphasise the atomic imagery.

Gerald Finlay as J Robert Oppenheimer, the Netherlands Opera Choir and dancers. Photo © 2007 Marco Borggreve
Gerald Finlay as J Robert Oppenheimer, the Netherlands Opera Choir and dancers. Photo © 2007 Marco Borggreve

Overall the music sustains an excitingly austere mood yet also has vitality, dance energy, lightness and lyricism, especially in this dynamically propulsive performance by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, and Netherlands Opera Chorus conducted by Lawrence Renes. The director Peter Sellars, who has collaborated so often with Adams, excelled here in the balance of the spectacular and the poetic elements. One may look forward both to its UK première, and to its transformation and reworking into an orchestral work, The Doctor Atomic Symphony, a 2007 BBC Proms commission, the world première of which is scheduled for London's Royal Albert Hall on 21 August 2007, and which will be broadcast (as with all the Proms), live on BBC Radio 3.

Copyright © 18 July 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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CARSON COOMAN AT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF 'DOCTOR ATOMIC'

JONATHAN HARVEY'S 'WAGNER DREAM' AT THE HOLLAND FESTIVAL

THE HOLLAND FESTIVAL

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