Mockingbird’s resident opera aficionado Ken Wilson offers forth a truly breathtaking moment of beauty:
John Donne’s plea in Holy Sonnet XIV that grace will break his captive will, set to necessarily inadequate but characteristically gorgeous music by John Adams and sung by bass-baritone Gerald Finley in the Adams opera Dr. Atomic (about Robert Oppenheimer and the setting off of the first atomic bomb):
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Adams’ Nixon in China will be the next Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast, on Saturday, 2/12. His opera The Flowering Tree, at the Jazz at Lincoln Center facility in 2009, was so flat-out beautiful I have yet to recover.