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Photo: Southwark Playhouse

Adams, John

I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky (1995)

Duration: 110 minutes
Songplay in two acts

Libretto and lyrics by June Jordan (E)

Orchestra: 2reeds(I=cl,bcl,II=asax)-3kbd(I=pft/sampler,II=sampler,III=synth)-gtr(=elec.gtr)-db(=elec.bgtr)-drum kit(=MIDIdrums)

NOTE: The hiring of a sound designer is a condition/requirement for permission.

For complete technical specifications go to: mhgrey.wordpress.com.
Abbreviations (PDF).

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Zellerbach Playhouse, University of California, Berkeley
Peter Sellars, director
Conductor: Grant Gershon
Company: Paul Drescher Ensemble


Tiffany, a white TV crime-as-news reporterMezzo-soprano
David, a black Baptist ministerHigh Tenor
Mike, a white copBaritone
Dewain, a black reformed gang leaderBaritone
Leila, a black graduate student working as a sex counsellor in an abortion clinicMezzo-soprano
Consuelo, an undocumented immigrant mother of two, from El SalvadorMezzo-soprano
Rick, a Vietnamese American legal aid defence attorneyTenor

Time and Place
1990s, Los Angeles, California

In a poor neighborhood of Los Angeles, the lives of seven young characters become entwined when Dewain, a former gang leader, is arrested by a policeman (Mike) for shoplifting two bottles of beer.  He had been hurrying home to see his girlfriend Consuelo, an undocumented political refugee from El Salvador who is the mother of his baby.  Dewain faces a harsh mandantory sentence if convicted of this petty crime, his third offense.  Mike’s arrest of Dewain is captured on videotape for a local TV station program hosted by Tiffany, an anchorwoman.  Tiffany is attracted to Mike, but her interest is not reciprocated.  Meanwhile, David, a charismatic local preacher, is romancing Leila, a community activist.  Rick, the public defender assigned to Dewain’s case, makes an impassioned plea in court for releasing Dewain.  An earthquake hits the city, and the crisis causes much soul-searching.  David realizes he is truly in love with Leila.  Mike acknowledges that he is gay; Tiffany turns her attention toward Rick, who was dazzled by her at the trial.  Consuelo tries to convince Dewain to run away with her to El Salvador, but he decides to stay.


Contemporary, Relationships, Society

Recommended Recording
Soloists of Young Opera Company Freiburg / The Band of Holst Sinfonietta / Klaus Simon
Naxos 8.669003-04
Available from www.naxos.com

Audra McDonald, Michael McElroy, Welly Yang, Angela Teek, Darius de Haas, Marin Mazzie, Richard Muenz, Avanti! Ensemble, John Adams
Nonesuch 7559794732
>Click here to purchase this CD
>To purchase June Jordan's libretto from Amazon click here

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