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Composer John Adams turns 75 today.

Today is John Adams‘ 75th birthday (Worcester, Massachusetts, 1947) and just a few days before the event, last Friday, it was announced that the American composer will be one of the key figures in the programme with which the San Francisco Opera, the second largest company in the United States, will celebrate the centenary of its founding this coming season. Although the first performance of the Californian institution took place on September 26th, 1923, the centennial celebrations will begin on September 9th, 2022, with the traditional Opera Ball. But immediately afterwards, on Saturday 10 September, the first opera of the season will feature John Adams, with the world premiere of his Antony and Cleopatra.

Although the opera was commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the Californian institution, the production is shared with Teatro Massimo in Palermo, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, which will programme it for the 2023-24 season and will be the venue for the opera’s European premiere.

This production is a major departure for Adams, whose operas often deal with recent historical moments and personalities: Nixon in China, about the first visit of a US president to the People’s Republic of China; The Death of Klinghoffer, based on the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front and the murder of one of the passengers, Leon Klinghoffer; Doctor Atomic, about the Manhattan Project and the construction of the first atomic bomb; and On the Transmigration of Souls, written in commemoration of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. On this occasion Adams has created a libretto inspired by ancient Egypt’s most famous love triangle, based on Shakespeare’s play, but with supplementary passages based on Plutarch, Virgil and other classical texts. The opera will be stage directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, whose recent projects include the Lincoln Center premiere of David Lang’s Prisoner of State with the New York Philharmonic, and the 2017 version on John Adams’ Nixon in China, premiered in Los Angeles Philarmonic.

© Photograph by Christine Alicino, downloaded from the John Adams website.