I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky

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9780684804224: I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky
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Best known as a political activist and an essayist, and hailed by Library Journal as "one of the most important poets today," Jordan has now written the libretto and the lyrics for an American opera. The music is composed by John Adams.
I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky mixes the drama of poetry and song to construct a brilliant earthquake/romance. In the context of the timeless issues of love, the opera, set in South Central Los Angeles, explores such contemporary questions as immigration, birth control, and criminal law. A white cop, a black Baptist minister, and an El Salvadoran mother are among the young Americans cast in this heartfelt portrayal of a day in the life of an LA neighborhood.

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From Booklist:

African American poet, essayist, and activist Jordan's libretto for sometime minimalist composer John Adams' latest opera is as timely as this morning's headlines. Since the flashy Peter Sellars is directing the opera's world premier, it may make its own headlines. Adams' earlier operatic successes, Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, were based on high-profile world events, and Jordan's libretto concerns seven Americans who include such high-profile types as an illegal alien, a reformed gang member, a womanizing preacher, an insensitive white cop, and an overzealous newswoman. Structured as a series of solos and duets, Jordan's work never quite comes together into a single, coherent narrative. But then, that is the point: even before an earthquake shatters their world, her characters live intensely fragmented lives of not so quiet desperation. Libraries that need to collect libretti should not miss this one. Jack Helbig

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