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I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky Cast Recording


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 17 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B00000DD99
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #169,431 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Ensemble - I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky (Mike, Consuelo, Dewain, Rick, Leila, Tiffany, David)
2. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: A Sermon On Romance (David, Leila)
3. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Consuelo's Dream (Connsuelo)
4. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Mike's Song About Arresting A Particular Individual (Mike)
5. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Tiffany's Solo (Mike)
6. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Song About The On-Site Altercation (Dewain, Tiffany, Leila, Mike)
7. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Song About The Bad Boys And The News (Tiffany, Consuelo, Leila)
8. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Your Honor My Client He's A Young Black Man (Rick, Dewain)
9. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Leila's Song; Alone (Again Or At Last) (Leila)
10. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Three Weeks And Still I'm Outta My Mind (David, Lelia)
11. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Crushed By The Rock I Been Standing On (David, Consuelo, Tiffany, Rick)
12. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Dewain's Song Of Liberation And Surprise (Dewain)
13. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: !Este Pais! - This Country (Consuelo, Dewain)
14. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: One Last Look At The Angel In Your Eyes (Consuelo, Dewain)
15. I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky: Finale (Mike, Consuelo, Dewain, Rick, Leila, Tiffany, David)

Product Description

--This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

By Sean M. Kelly on April 21 2001
Format: Audio CD
It took me several listens to gather the full effect of what Adams was trying to accomplish on this opera/musical. I'm not sure that this recording fully harnesses it all, but it is an excellent recording.
As most people know, the recording is based on the 1994 major earthquake in California, and the structure of the recording reflects this, as movements 2-14 are meant as either solos or duets to reflect points of view. These pieces are sandwiched by ensemble numbers (part 1 and 15) that show off some of Adams' minimalist leanings but quickly switch over to pop and jazz sensibilities.
At moments, it's difficult to follow the flow of the action, especially on those parts that have no dialogue to connect sections. I suppose that is a nit-pickey point, all in all, but it was a noticable flaw as i heard it.
With Adams conducting, the cd shows off a different side of Adams. No, he's no Lloyd-Webber or Sondheim (thankfully) but the performance IS an interesting melding of opera and musical. While this concept, in my opinion, pales in comparison to his other operatic works, the work is a confident one, and is well worth listening to.
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Format: Audio CD
When this was playing up in Berkeley, Paul Hertelendy of the San Jose Mercury News compared it to Bernstein's West Side Story -- i.e., a plainly commercial attempt in the genre of popular musical theatre. This it is. Adams lacks a kind of musical charisma to create memorable, singable popular tunes, so on that level it fails. A pop attempt like this is a little incongruous: as if the dapper and nattily dressed Adams himself were wearing baggy jeans and backward cap. It's trying to be something it can't be. But what Adams always does is, first, set the English language in an unexpected yet natural and effective way, and second, introduce a steady stream of subtleties that should entertain any fan of his music. There is some great stuff under the covers here, but it is neither succesfully pop-attuned (like West Side Story or Lloyd Webber) nor emotionally profound (like Adams' own Violin Concerto or Harmonium.)
For all that, I like to hear Adams stretch himself and pop-inflected music at the same time, and since I think he's the best setter of the English language since Britten, I enjoyed "Ceiling ... Sky" (4 stars is my strong pro-Adams prejudice) and have been waiting for the CD since seeing the original Berkeley production. For my money, the libretto is better than "Nixon" and "Klinghoffer". The only things I miss are the great graffiti murals hung at the back of the stage.
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By A Customer on Dec 23 1998
Format: Audio CD
This music might be rather striking when you first hear it, possibly because it has not been writen before, which is always striking to an ear who has never experienced such a masterpiece of ideas and music - I admit it took me aback the first time I heard it. It took me repeat hearings for finally get into the mood of it. All I can say is that this is some of the most amazing music I've witnessed in a long time, since I first heard Einstein on the Beach three years ago. Coming from a classical background, it is refreshing to hear yet another classical composer loosen his belt and get with many of the trends of 20th century music, and coming from a musical theatre perspective, this is a great bridge to get into minimalism. The 'plot' or more rather a sequence of attitudes or events fits the music perfectly, and excuse our one star reviewer for his short sightedness, the interaction of the characters, one from each major background, is exciting and very true. It is a true work of art.
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Format: Audio CD
This work falls between two stools - on the one hand the style is eclectic, encompassing gospel, rock, sprechstimme, opera, musical theatre. On the other it could have been written by no one but Adams. He takes a variety of musical styles and makes them his own. I was initially puzzled by it but many subsequent hearings have confirmed that here is a wonderful piece of musical theatre, finding a depth of emotion that is light years ahead of the vacuousness of modern musical theatre (no names....!) If it recalls anyone other than the composer himself then it would be Sondheim - there is something of the New York composer in the small musical cells, subjected to numerous repetitions; but Adams' melodic gift is greater. As the wonderful title of the piece indicates, this is a piece about trnscending the mundane and finding spirituality in the most unlikely situations. I have played it countless times and it never fails to move and excite.
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By A Customer on Dec 26 1998
Format: Audio CD
John Adams' works have always been interesting, and with "Ceiling/Sky", he once again offers a challenging and original score. Borrowing from classical styles as well as modern rock, jazz, doo-wop, and gospel, Adams' ambitious canvas impresses the listener with its wide musical scope. Even more intriguing is that, with this new work, Adams has written a piece that is much more musical theatre than it is modern opera. Admittedly, there are times when the libretto is dramatically faulty, and most of the white couple's music is rather drab; still, this does not mar the power of most of the score, nor the phenomenal performances. Enjoyable and satisfying, this is one of the best theatre recordings of the year.
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