New Yorker staff reporter and author Steve Coll (Pulitzer-winning Ghost Wars, The Bin Ladens) also keeps a blog called "Think Tank" at the magazine's site, and weighed in recently on his evening spent watching Doctor Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera. (Question: The daily newspaper and most magazines publish far more articles than most readers have time to read. By adding blogs to their sites, are newspapers and magazines reducing the percentage of words their readers can reasonably digest? Discuss.) Coll reported many empty seats ("Economic crisis plus modern music equals lots of rush seats"), but highly recommends the opera to those who, like himself, may be reluctant to attend.
But where Coll shifts away from musical criticism and arts boosterism is by discussing the libretto and the history of the Manhattan Project. Specifically, he discusses a forthcoming book by Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman about Japan's own nuclear ambitions during World War II, and the conclusion is that the two atomic bomb drops of 1945 may have been more of a deterrent than we have known up to now. The scientists of the Project believed they were working to beat Germany to the bomb, but it's possible that the Japanese were well on their way to their own thermonuclear device.
The Times still has mp3s available from the Met Opera's opening-night performance. Cast and chorus sound good, but the orchestra---they eat that score for lunch. That is some tight ensemble work.