Just in: John Adams gets a London premiere next month

English National Opera will stage John Adams’ El Niño at the London Coliseum on November 27 and 28.

Singers include Nardus Williams, Jennifer Johnston, James Rutherford and three countertenors Jake Arditti, Tom Scott-Cowell and Feargal Mostyn-Williams, along with the Finchley Children’s Music Group. Martin Brabbins conducts.

El Niño was premiered 20 years ago in Paris by Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Willard White, but has never matched the impact of Adams’s major operas.


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  • Well, El Niño (2000) and The Gospel According to the Other Mary (2012) are oratorios, so they impact in a different way. He has also written two cantatas and a “songplay” besides the five operas.

  • Nothing against John Adams, whom I admire greatly, but, probably due to my position on stage, I’ll always associate this particular work with the beginnings of my tinnitus!

    • Safe work or not, it is Remembrance Sunday on 8 November, practically demolished by the British pandemic and All Souls’ Day on 2 November remembered all over Europe, and Armistace Day on 11th. A perfect and hugely appropriate work to remember the dead, and sung with the full sound by opera singers. I am travelling down for it from Bradford just to hear the sound!

  • This was the first of the Adams-Sellars collaborations to be cobbled together from extant texts of multiple sources. The fact that it is a Nativity oratorio–not an opera–may in part account for the fact that it is the most artistically successful example of Sellars’s “magpie” approach to assembling texts, which he used to diminishing returns in DOCTOR ATOMIC, GIRLS OF THE GOLDEN WEST, etc. The overall work, originally written to usher in the new millennium, is truly a great and mighty wonder, and stands as one of Adams’s most significant achievements.

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