John Adams and Writing an American Opera

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In this 1995 interview from the WNYC archives, John Adams talks with host John Schaefer about his new opera I Was looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky, finished just a week before the interview took place. Adams explores what sets this opera apart from his earlier efforts and how it resembles the form of the American musical. Cast members from the production perform live in-studio. 

Based on the earthquakes that hit California in the 1990's, the libretto is set around the difficult conditions for young men and women of the time. Adams discusses his influences from rock and jazz, his desire to stray from the label of opera, and how even the singers were chosen from popular genres, and not specifically from the field of opera.  

From March 8-30, From the Archives streams weekdays at 7 AM and 8 PM on Q2 Music. For more information on American Mavericks, visit