Choosing Figs | Neurotic as Hell | A Travel, Lifestyle, and Life List Blog

Doctor Atomic – Act II

“Act 2 is everything you hate about opera: it’s too long and you won’t understand any of it.”
– Director librettist Peter Sellars on Doctor Atomic

Last night Alina and I went to see Doctor Atomic at Lyric. I finally got to see Act 2!

After a quick dinner at the Corner Bakery we headed off to the theatre an hour early to catch the director/librettist Peter Sellars give a lecture. I’m glad we caught it because he is an excellent speaker who was very passionate and was very good at defending his work without being defensive. He even flat out told us that the second act was too long and confusing But then went on to justify it (and the fact that the last twenty minutes before the bomb drops takes 40 minutes to portray) without calling us a bunch of idiots for not understanding. I liked that.

The opera was very different, but very interesting. A lot of the libretto wasn’t actually written, it was taken from actual conversations and the writings of Oppenheimer’s favorite poets (Donne and Baudelaire) and the Bhagavad-Gita (which Oppenheimer had studied) and, according to the director, some of it was taken from classified documents that only very recently became unclassified. Visually and vocally the production was really powerful and beautiful. I wasn’t impressed with all of the choreography, but, since I used to dance, opera choreography doesn’t usually impress me. But really, opera is all about the voices.

Despite the fact that there was no singing, my favorite part was actually the last few minutes of the performance. It was very subtle, but extremely powerful and suspenseful. Everyone filled the stage, lying in the trenches, slowly staring out, waiting. And the music did all the work.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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