Congratulations on Doctor Atomic winning Limelight‘s Opera Recording of the Year 2018.

Thank you. It’s wonderful and it just reminds me of the wonderful time I had in Sydney conducting the orchestra and being in Australia.

John Adams, Doctor Atomic John Adams. Photo © Deborah O’Grady

Where did the idea for an opera about Oppenheimer come from? And how long was it in gestation?

The idea was suggested to me by Pamela Rosenberg who was at the time the artistic director of San Francisco Opera. She proposed it to me as a sort of American Faust story. She thought that the predicament of Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant, highly cultured physicist who shepherded the project to develop the bomb, was somewhat of a Faustian bargain in that he had to work with the government and the military to create something that in the end was this devastating weapon of destruction. Immediately she proposed it, that just clicked. I realised it was a great story, that the atomic bomb is the ultimate archetype, the ultimate mythological icon, and the drama of it was something that was perfectly suited for opera.

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