The Met will present the opera — which had its premiere at the San Francisco Opera on October 1, 2005 — during the 2008-09 season. The piece has a libretto by Peter Sellars. McDonald would play the lead role of Kitty Oppenheimer, wife of "father of the atomic bomb" Robert Oppenheimer, the Met's new general manager Peter Gelb told Playbill.com.
The first act of Doctor Atomic takes place a month before the bomb is to be tested; the second act is set in the early morning of July 15, 1945, the day of the test. Throughout, Kitty is anxious over her husband's work.
Past Adams operas include Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer.
McDonald won her Tony Awards for Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime and Raisin in the Sun. She possesses one of the more operatic voices in the musical theater and has a thriving career as a concert artist. McDonald is due to star on Broadway in 110 in the Shade during the coming season.
Since rising to his post, Gelb has made a concerted effort to draft artists from the world of theater. He recently hired Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth to make her New York opera debut in John Corigliano's opera The Ghosts of Versailles.
Ghosts debuted at the Met in 1991. The play-within-a-play plot is set at Versailles and features playwright Beaumarchais and Marie Antoinette, now dead, as characters.
Also part of an ambitious, multi-show, multi-year collaboration between the Met and Lincoln Center Theater are Adam Guettel, whose The Light in the Piazza was a hit at LCT; Jeanine Tesori, who wrote incidental music for LCT's production of Twelfth Night and saw her Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway; Tony Kushner, who worked with Tesori on Caroline, or Change; and Michael John LaChiusa, whose Bernarda Alba was recently at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre.
Other projects include a new Tosca, possibly directed by George C. Wolfe, debuting in fall 2009. Richard Eyre will direct and Matthew Bourne will choreograph Angela Gheorghiu in Carmen. For the next season, 2010-11, theatrical auteur Robert Lepage will stage a Wagner Ring.