John Adams's oratorio, El Niño, which was commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, debuted in Paris in 2000. Like the much-praised La Pasion Segun San Marcos, a contemporary retelling of the Gospel of Mark by Osvaldo Golijov, it is not a classical work but a boldly unconventional approach to a sacred story, in this case the Annunciation and birth of Christ. El Niño refashions the story as the drama of a young Latino girl and her boyfriend in contemporary Los Angeles. When I saw El Niño in San Francisco in 2001, what really startled me was how far it pushed the customary bounds of the oratorio genre. Music, film, and dance all serve as instruments of theological understanding.
Crowley, P.G. (2004). What Child is This? John Adams’s "El Niño". Commonweal, v. 130 no. 22, pp. 15–16.
Copyright © 2004 Commonweal Magazine. Reprinted with permission.