El Nino: Nativity Reconsidered
By Katelyn Simone
Few stories are known as well worldwide as that of the Nativity, and with it the many traditions — oral, musical, visual — of its telling. While revered and far-reaching, these accounts don’t often exude relatability, with arcane, ancient narrators tracing mythical characters through the unfathomable story of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Christ’s birth.
Last week, I was thrilled to see John Adams’s Christmas oratorio El Niño shake these heavens. Produced by American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) in an abridged version at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, El Niño: Nativity Reconsidered combined cross-cultural libretto compiled by Peter Sellars with deeply felt performances to amplify the maternal voice within the Christmas story and embrace such human realities as childbirth, violence, and hunger. Far from theoretical, the production honored common physical experiences, mingling them with the spiritual to bring within reach a sense of the miraculous.