American composer John Adams captured the agonizing weeks leading up to the detonation of the first atomic bomb in the 2005 opera Doctor Atomic, staged at Lyric Opera of Chicago by the extraordinary Peter Sellars. In addition to the composer and director, this three-part symposium features Norman Ramsey, who worked with the "father of the bomb" Robert Oppenheimer at Los Alamos and flew in an accompanying plane when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima; Martin Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Oppenheimer; Henry Frisch, physicist at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago; and baritone Gerald Finley, who portrays the mercurial nuclear scientist Oppenheimer in the opera. Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me host Peter Sagal and former Sun-Times music critic Wynne Delacoma moderate this event.
In this first of three parts, John Adams, Peter Sellars, Gerald Finley, James Cuno and moderator Wynne Delacoma discuss opera and the arts in the nuclear age.
Recorded Sunday, December 09, 2007 at The Art Institute of Chicago-Fullerton Hall.