Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Adams: A Flowering Tree

Adams: A Flowering Tree

5.0 2
by John Adams
The New Yorker’s Alex Ross has called the score for John Adams’ beguiling new opera, A Flowering Tree, “opulent, dreamlike, fiercely lyrical, at times shadowy and strange—unlike anything that the fifty-nine-year-old composer has written.” The San Francisco Chronicle concurred, noting that Adams’ work has “all the dreamlike sweetness and shadow of


The New Yorker’s Alex Ross has called the score for John Adams’ beguiling new opera, A Flowering Tree, “opulent, dreamlike, fiercely lyrical, at times shadowy and strange—unlike anything that the fifty-nine-year-old composer has written.” The San Francisco Chronicle concurred, noting that Adams’ work has “all the dreamlike sweetness and shadow of a fairy tale.” Variety describes Adams’ music as “his most lush and erotic to date.”

A Flowering Tree was commissioned for the 2006 Vienna New Crowned Hope Festival to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Adams became involved at the behest of the director – and longtime friend/collaborator – Peter Sellars, who organized this visionary event and extended invitations to musicians and artists of various disciplines from around the world. Given the festival’s global sensibility, Adams took the framework of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a tale of physical and spiritual transformation, and created a new work with a parallel scenario by adapting ancient Indian folk tales and poetry. The libretto, co-written with Sellars, is sung in English, except for chorale passages written in Spanish especially for the Scola Cantorum de Caracas – “an extraordinary amateur chorus,” as The New York Times has called them, based in Venezuela – who were brought over to perform at the premiere. Adams was making a deeper point with his bilingual text: “Using two languages is also a reaffirmation of my feeling that we are living in a time of global cultural awareness, with all its pain and wonder.”

The performances on this two-disc set, which includes extensive liner notes and the complete libretto, were recorded at the Barbican Center, London, in August 2007, with the London Symphony Orchestra and the same vocalists who performed in Vienna; the composer conducts. Says Variety, “Jessica Rivera is reedy, gorgeous and sensitive as Kumudha; Russell Thomas makes a sweet, heroic prince; and Eric Owens is a mesmerizing, multifaceted Storyteller.”

Adams and Sellars have worked together for more than two decades; audacious and important projects like Nixon In China and The Death Of Klinghoffer, both released on disc by Nonesuch, have been debated and celebrated for years. A Flowering Tree has been acclaimed in every city where it has been has been performed. Says Adams, “Opera is the rare art form that can address the grand themes of human existence. I’ve taken on very large themes in my operas - the clash of cultures (Nixon in China), terrorism and intolerance (The Death of Klinghoffer), birth and rebirth (El Niño), the atomic bomb (Doctor Atomic) and now youth, transformation and magic (A Flowering Tree). Opera, with its potent mix of music, text, gesture, light and imagery, can penetrate the psyche of the audience in a way no other art can.” From the Label

Product Details

Release Date:


Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Adams   Primary Artist,Conductor
London Symphony Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Jessica Rivera   Soprano (Vocal)
Schola Cantorum de Venezuela   Choir, Chorus,Ensemble
Russell Thomas   Tenor (Vocal)
Maria Guinand   Choir Director
Eric Owens   Baritone (Vocal),Brass Baritone
Russell Thomas   Tenor (Vocal)

Technical Credits

John Adams   Librettist,Composer
Robert Hurwitz   Executive Producer
Sarah Cahill   Liner Notes
Tobias Lehmann   Engineer
Peter Sellars   Librettist
Ronen Givony   Editorial Coordinator
A.K. Ramanujan   Text Translation

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Adams: A Flowering Tree 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full of shimmering, almost halucinatory passages. Contemporary music sure isn't what it used to be!
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
John Adams continues to explore innovative musical ideas, tying them to political and philosophical themes, and has become America's favorite contemporary composer. His ability to communicate tremendously powerful responses from his audience with his 'enhanced minimalism' of style ('Nixon in China', 'The Death of Klinghoffer', 'Doctor Atomic' and 'El Nino' operas to works such as 'On the Transmigration of Souls, 'El Dorado', and 'Harmonium') makes him in integral part of our cultural fabric. FLOWERING TREE, beautifully recorded here in its entirety, adds another dimension to Adams' gifts - the translation of an Eastern Indian tale into an 'opera' that successfully recreates a myth while capturing the deep philosophical messages the myth holds as metaphor. The story is at once simple and complex: suffice it to say that it relates the tale of a young woman reaching puberty who is able to be transformed into a flowering tree, an act that fascinates a Prince who marries the low caste girl for her magic rather than for her person. Giving in to the desire of the Prince the girl advises the people of the court how to recreate the transformation and the Prince and the girl consummate their marriage and discover a profound mutual love. Jealousy within the court leads to the disruption of one of the transformation sequences and the girl is broken while a tree and becomes an armless, legless outcast begging in the streets with her lovely songs. The distraught Prince fades to near nothingness at the loss of his bride, wandering the world for his love until an act brings the two together and the metamorphosis is complete. The story is told by a narrator (Eric Owen) and the two other singing roles are sung by Jessica Rivera (the tree/girl Kumuhda) and Russell Thomas (the Prince). Each of these gifted singer actors is splendid: the opera is currently being presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with John Adams conducting, assisted by the same three singers on this recording and by the Los Angeles Master Chorale all with the original staging by Peter Sellars and the shadow dancing by three brilliant Indonesian dancers. This work contains some of Adams' most richly colorful orchestration (the music from the large orchestra that paints the transformation of the girl into a tree and that portion that reunites the lovers glows with an erotic and sensuous radiance like no other of Adams' works). The singing is in English but the important choral contributions are sung in Spanish - Adams' confessed second language as a Californian but also a language that for him is more sensual and evocative than English. The combination of these forces is as magic as the tale they describe. John Adams has once again created a vital contemporary work, as rich in beauty of sound as it is in poignantly profound message. It is a little miracle of an opera. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp