John Adams' "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky": Examination of an earthquake/romance
In 1995, John Adams, Peter Sellars, and June Jordan collaborated on the contemporary opera/musical I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky. Based around the 1994 Los Angeles, California earthquake, the work follows the struggles and daily lives of seven diverse twenty-somethings. This paper examines the creation of the work and compiles all available information about professional performances and recordings. An exploration of musical content in relation to characterization is supported by a stylistic description of every piece. There is also a more detailed analysis of three ensemble numbers. The conclusion is a discussion of the dramatic connotations of the earthquake and how the work fits into the paradigm of Shakespearean comedy.