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Music Text

Libretto adapted by John Adams from Shakespeare, Plutarch, and Virgil; libretto consultation by Elkhanah Pulitzer and Lucia Scheckner (E)


S,3M,2T,2Bar,4BBar; mixed chorus;

Abbreviations (PDF)

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

Boosey & Hawkes


World Premiere
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA
Elkhanah Pulitzer, director / San Francisco Opera / Eun Sun Kim
Press Quotes

Opera News
“richly evocative, and eminently singable”

“Adams’s sound world built to moments of thrilling intensity.”

San Francisco Classical Voice
“Adams’s score is a miraculous summation of the best of his work over the last 30-plus years. The syncopation, swirling winds, ominous brass, and sinister percussion are all characteristic.”

New Yorker
"finely wrought, fiercely expressive ... an unmistakable personal voice"

"The richer the language, the stronger Adams’s response ... The collision with Shakespeare appears to have been inevitable."

Wall Street Journal
“kaleidoscopically grand”

“The orchestration is inventive and encyclopedic; the sprawling dramaturgy well-corralled; the text setting clear.”

"This opera delivers in spades."

Financial Times
“dramatically effective”

“constant buzz of tense action … ever more inventive orchestral writing”

San Francisco Chronicle
“some of the most radiantly beautiful music in the composer’s catalog”

“theatrical grandeur blended with expressive intimacy in perfectly judged proportions”

“The music is rich, evocative and full of intricately crafted detail (Shakespeare’s famous invocation of Cleopatra’s “infinite variety” is too apt to resist applying here as well).”

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