Document Type


Publication Date



Commonweal Magazine


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.


Copyright © 2004 Commonweal Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

Included in

Religion Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.