J. Robert Oppenheimer’s development of the atomic bomb is unquestionably the stuff of opera: a tale of power, ambition and hubris, starring a flawed hero of poetic sensibilities. Wonders Are Many neatly intertwines the work of Oppenheimer’s Los Alamos team—recounted through expert testimony and historic images—with revealing glimpses into the creation of Doctor Atomic, a 2005 opera by composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars. Jon Else’s taut chronicle, fashioned from vivid scenes of creativity and conflict, mostly coheres despite a few wayward strands. But disappointingly, Adams’s purely musical choices are largely left unexamined.
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