Independent Lens: Wonders Are Many, The Making of Doctor Atomic
In October 2005, the San Francisco Opera premiered Doctor Atomic, minimalist composer John Adams’ opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, and the events leading up to the world’s first nuclear weapons test at Los Alamos Laboratory in July 1945. This Independent Lens traces the work’s developments through rehearsals, but also parses Oppenheimer’s complex personality, using recently declassified film footage to show the real-life events portrayed in the opera. Oppenheimer wrote no diary or autobiography, so director Peter Sellars fashioned the libretto out of the thousands of pages of documents and correspondence he left behind. “There’s never been an opera like this,” Adams says, “a mixture of things people really said, and poetry.” Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings