John Adams to Present EL NINO at The Met, Staged by Lileana Blain-Cruz

The opera features a libretto by Peter Sellars and Adams and explores themes of motherhood, migration, and more.

By: Apr. 18, 2024
John Adams to Present EL NINO at The Met, Staged by Lileana Blain-Cruz
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Pulitzer Prize–winning composer-conductor John Adams will return to the Met for the company premiere of his acclaimed opera-oratorio El Niño, opening on April 23. Staged by Lileana Blain-Cruz, a resident director at Lincoln Center Theater and a Tony Award nominee for her 2022 production of The Skin of Our Teeth, the opera features a libretto by Peter Sellars and Adams and explores themes of motherhood, migration, authoritarian regimes, feminism, and the changing environment and incorporates sacred and secular texts in English, Spanish, and Latin. 
 
El Niño also brings together three of contemporary music’s stalwart champions, all making their highly anticipated company debuts—Grammy Award–winning conductor Marin Alsop, who has led more than 200 premieres; soprano Julia Bullock, and scheduled to star in Adams’s Antony and Cleopatra next season; and pathbreaking bass-baritone Davóne Tines.
 
The production also features mezzo-sopranos J’Nai Bridges and Daniela Mack. In her 2019 Met debut, Bridges sang the role of Nefertiti in the critically acclaimed Met premiere of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. Mack, having made her Met debut in Dvořák’s Rusalka, is scheduled to return to the Met for the company premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar during the 2024–25 season. Rounding out the principal cast are the three countertenors Key’mon W. Murrah, Siman Chung—both making their Met debuts—and Eric Jurenas.
 
Led by Blain-Cruz, the creative team includes set designer Adam Rigg, lighting designer Yi Zhao, projection designer Hannah Wasileski, puppet designer James Ortiz, and choreographer Marjani Forté-Saunders—all making their Met debuts. Sound designer Mark Grey returns along with costume designer Montana Levi Blanco, who made his Met debut last season with Terence Blanchard’s Champion. 
 
A modern retelling of the Nativity story, El Niño was written to coincide with the start of the new millennium in 2001 and had its world premiere at Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet in 2000. This is the fourth Adams work to be presented at the Met, following Doctor Atomic (2008), Nixon in China (2011), and The Death of Klinghoffer (2014). In the 2024–25 season, the Met will present Antony and Cleopatra, which it co–commissioned and produced with San Francisco Opera and the Liceu Opera Barcelona. 
 
Following the El Niño premiere on April 23, six additional performances run through May 17.
 
El Niño Public Programs and Special Events
Works & Process at the Guggenheim: El Niño by John Adams
Monday, April 1, 7PM
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater, 1071 Fifth Avenue
Prior to the April 23 company premiere of John Adams’s El Niño, Met General Manager Peter Gelb moderated a discussion with director Lileana Blain-Cruz, set designer Adam Rigg, and conductor Marin Alsop about the themes of this dramatic retelling of the Nativity story. Soprano Julia Bullock, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, and bass-baritone Davóne Tines also participated in the panel and performed highlights from the powerful score.
 
Opera Evolved: Revival of New Work by Living Composers Series
Tuesday, April 9, 7:30PM
National Sawdust
The compelling conclusion to this three-part series offered a deep dive into operatic innovation and the artistic process. This event compared the Met’s groundbreaking initiative of presenting 17 contemporary works over the next five seasons with National Sawdust’s visionary plan to commission five new pieces in their 2024–25 season. The discussion centered on the transformative impact of these artistic endeavors by both the Met and National Sawdust.
 

The Divine Feminine in El Niño: An Evening of Latinx Poetry, Music, and Dance

Thursday, April 18, 7:30PM
Judson Memorial Church
The Met and Qween Jean of Judson Memorial Church present an evening of Latinx poetry and music, with a special focus on the work of Rosario Castellanos. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz and choreographer Marjani Forté-Saunders join Ghanian artist JOJO ABOT in conversation, and a diverse lineup of women artists present performances of opera, multimedia art, dance, and poetry curated by CantoMundo’s Deborah Paredez. Admission is free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, click here.
 

El Niño at the Met: Opera, Baby Jesus, and Today’s Refugees

Friday, April 19, 6PM
Church of St. Paul of the Apostle
The Met partners with Fordham University for a conversation at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, moderates the discussion between Lileana Blain-Cruz, director of the Met’s new production of El Niño; Fadi Skeiker of the university’s theater department; and Fordham theology professor Leo Guardado. Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack also performs a selection from the score. Admission is free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, click here.  
 

Gallery Met: Lileana Blain-Cruz and Tschabalala Self in Conversation with Thelma Golden

Saturday, April 27, 7PM
The Metropolitan Opera
Lileana Blain-Cruz, the director of the Met’s premiere production of John Adams’s El Niño, and Tschabalala Self, the artist who created the new banner currently adorning the façade of the Met, come together for a conversation about the intersections of art, opera, and theater, moderated by Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Discover how these two artists, working at the top of their respective fields, found a creative spark in Adams’s musical take on the Nativity story—and where else they find artistic inspiration. This event is open to ticketholders only.
 

El Niño Broadcasts on Radio and Online

The April 23 performance of El Niño will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on the SiriusXM app. The May 4 performance will be broadcast over The Robert K. Johnson Foundation–Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. Audio from the April 23 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s website, metopera.org.

Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman / Met Opera



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