Articles & Reviews
Reviews – Opera
July 8, 2019 – Bachtrack
Nixon in China touches down at Princeton Festival
By Susan Gould
The annual Princeton Festival does well by both standard operatic repertoire and works less often performed; for example, both The Flying Dutchman (2013) and Peter Grimes (2016) were excellent. Last year was Madama Buttterfly, so this year, the Festival’s fifteenth… Nixon in China? True, now is the ideal historic moment, but the work is extremely complicated, with John Adams’ predominantly minimalist score and poet Alice Goodman’s philosophical libretto. But this was the right choice: a remarkable production performed remarkably. [Read more]
July 8, 2019 – Opera Wire
Princeton Festival 2019 Review: Nixon in China
A Strong Portrayal Of One Of the 20th Century’s Best Operas
By Gregory Moomjy
In the 21st century when opera is perceived as elitist and out-of-touch with contemporary issues, there are many hated buzz words which encapsulate hurdles that modern opera companies must meet if they want to survive. “Relevancy” is one such buzz word. In a society that is far-removed from the aristocracy, powdered wigs and hoop skirts, common in Mozart’s day, how can composers write operas which speak to modern audiences? Implicit in that question are a few others: what does our contemporary mythology consist of if not Julius Caesar or Attila the Hun, who are the cultural figures that everyone knows which embody our values as a society?
Composer John Adams came up with one very compelling answer. [Read more]
July 2, 2019 – Arts Journal
Nixon in China comes to Princeton, literally smarter than ever
By David Patrick Stearns
Though John Adams’ first opera, Nixon in China, never felt particularly foreign, everybody from singers to directors to conductors to critics needed a few decades to determine what’s there and how to draw the most out of it. The new Princeton Festival production played only two performances, June 23 and 30 at the McCarter Theatre Center, but did so with a welcome sense of artistic arrival. [Read more]
June 29, 2019 – Opera Today
The Princeton Festival Presents Nixon in China
By Andrew Moravcsik
The Princeton Festival has adopted a successful and sophisticated operatic programming strategy, whereby the annual opera alternates between a standard warhorse and a less known, more challenging work. Last year Princeton presented Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. This year the choice is Nixon in China by modern American composer John Adams, which opened before a nearly full house of appreciative listeners.
Overall, this production reinforces the Princeton Festival’s reputation as a site for innovative and sophisticated summer opera. [Read more]
June 28, 2019 – Exeunt NYC
Review: Nixon in China at McCarter Theatre Center
By Patrick Maley
Friends, a confession: I am an experienced critic of theater and music who has never been to the opera. Well, not until this past weekend, anyway, when I broke my opera-less streak with John Adams’s Nixon in China, staged at the McCarter Theatre as part of the 15th annual Princeton Festival of performance arts.
Quite an introduction to the genre, this production.
I’m glad I took the opera leap and encourage you to check it out for yourself. What other opportunity are you going to have to hear a former National Security Advisor sing out for directions to the men’s room in a booming baritone? [Read more]
June 27, 2019 – Princeton Found
“Nixon in China” in Princeton, NJ
By R. Birkel
I was amazed that The Princeton Festival brought Nixon in China to town. There haven’t been many productions of this opera, so I applaud Artistic Director, Richard Tang Yuk for making this wise decision.
Steven LaCosse’s regulates the fluidity of the stage nicely. There is a lot of action and a large chorus to navigate, and he manages it all very well.
The live orchestra is always conducted by Tang Yuk, who is truly gifted, and I love the acoustics at McCarter Theatre. The energy and richness of the sound field is very satisfying. The combination of the talented orchestra, Richard Tang Yuk’s skill, and the theater, offers an amazing amuse-bouche for the soul. [Read more]
June 26, 2019 – U.S. 1
Opera Review: ‘Nixon in China’
By Neal Zoren
In every way, the Princeton Festival’s production of “Nixon in China” exhilarates with intelligence and epic sweep.
Steven LaCosse’s production is constantly compelling. He and conductor Richard Tang Yuk not only combine for theatrical and musical brilliance but rivet you to a stage that is busy with Jonathan Dahm Robertson’s enhancing projections and significant action going on in several places at once, including a McCarter Theater balcony box. [Read more]
June 26, 2019 – Town Topics
Princeton Festival Takes Operatic Journey Back to Historic 1972 Political Meeting
By Nancy Plum
The Princeton Festival has stretched itself well into the challenging operatic stratosphere in its 15th anniversary season this year with its mainstage production of John Adams’ Nixon in China, which opened at McCarter Theatre Center’s Matthews Theatre this past Sunday afternoon. For this production, Festival Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk assembled a cast of both returning and new singers to the stage for a complex operatic production bringing humanity and poignancy to two controversial historic characters. [Read more]
June 25, 2019 – Parterre
Nixon in Jersey: The Renixoning
By John Yohalem
The annual Princeton Festival in June climaxes with a fully staged grand opera at the McCarter Theater on campus. This year’s offering (last Sunday, to be repeated next Sunday) was John Adams’s most popular opera, Nixon in China, given a first-rate production and performed by an excellent youthful cast.
This complex and multilayered work was given its due largely thanks to the scenic and projection design of Jonathan Dahm Robertson, full of projected headlines and news images as well as circuits and snowfalls and airplanes,and by the lighting design of Norman Coates, who implies passing time and marching armies by having shadows ripple over ranks in uniform—an effect as beautiful as it is symbolically effective, as are many of the plays of light on the simple, elegant costumes by James Schuette.
The Princeton Festival Chorus and Orchestra performed Adams’s elaborately subtle orchestration and constant shifts of rhythm very well indeed under Richard Tang Yuk. [Read more]
June 24, 2019 – Broad Street Review
The Princeton Festival presents John Adams and Alice Goodman’s ‘Nixon in China’: A modern relic
By Cameron Kelsall
… Yuk has also assembled the most vocally consistent cast I’ve heard at the Festival. Baritones Sean Anderson (Nixon) and John Viscardi (Chou En-Lai) and bass Joseph Barron (Kissinger) represented the low voices well, with Viscardi particularly effective in the closing solo aria, “I am old and I cannot sleep.” Cameron Schutza deployed a ringing tenor in Chairman Mao’s unforgivingly high music, showing no sign of strain during the character’s first-act monologue.
Rainelle Krause brought a plangent lyric soprano to Pat Nixon; better yet, she provided a necessary sense of dignity whenever possible. Teresa Castillo attacked Madame Mao’s acuti with fearless abandon and a much-needed dose of humor. The chorus, under Gregory Geehern’s direction, performed with admirable polish.
I have long admired the Princeton Festival for its willingness to program works that challenge audiences and diverge from the commercial repertory, and Nixon in China certainly fits that bill…. [Read more]
June 24, 2019 – Parterre
A little ‘Nixon’ goes a long way
By David Fox
First of all—bravo to the Princeton Festival! Now celebrating its 15th season, this team effort has long been a “Little Engine that Could,” but the current operatic offering, John Adams’ Nixon in China, is a good deal more than that.
Though I think the piece is ultimately a crowd-pleaser—certainly it seemed so at Sunday’s opening performance—it’s an ambitious and out-of-the-box choice, and one that requires substantial forces to make it work.
Here, conducted by Festival Director Richard Tang Yuk and directed by Steven LaCosse, it has all that and more. The cast is strong across the board, with exceptional work by Sean Anderson as a vocally and dramatically towering Richard Nixon; Cameron Schutza, whose plangent tenor brought unearthly beauty to Chairman Mao; Teresa Castillo, a glitteringly virtuosic Madame Mao; and John Viscardi, a compelling Chou En-Lai, who sounded particularly lovely in his quiet, contemplative passages. [Read more]
Reviews – Musical
June 14, 2019 – Princeton Found
Falling for The Princeton Festival’s “She Loves Me”
By R. BIrkel
She Loves Me is a musical romantic comedy that takes place in a fragrance shop in Budapest, which is an adaptation of the 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László. …
The comedy is really spot on and worth watching just to witness the brilliant delivery that leads to many laugh out loud moments. Add the strong acting, chemistry between the actors, and voices that soar, Amy Weintraub, James Conrad Smith, and Brandon Walters were standouts for me, and you have the recipe for a great production. [Read more]
June 12, 2019 – U.S. 1
Princeton Festival Review: ‘She Loves Me’
By Neal Zoren
“She Loves Me” qualifies as a perfect musical. It has an engaging plot written by Joe Masteroff. It is constantly witty and loaded with interesting tributaries so everyone working in the story’s posh Budapest parfumerie has his or her story told and a big number to accent it. …
Productions vary, of course, but “She Loves Me” never fails to delight, and David Kellett’s staging, running weekends through Sunday, June 30, at the Princeton Festival is no exception. [Read more]
June 12, 2019 – Town Topics
Store Clerks Bicker, Exchange Anonymous Letters in “She Loves Me”; Princeton Festival Delivers Exquisite Production of a Classic Musical
By Donald H. Sanborn III
The 15th anniversary Princeton Festival includes the Broadway musical She Loves Me. Directed by David Kellett, this presentation of the charming romantic comedy boasts exquisite musical performances, as well as elegant choreography and production design. [Read more]
Reviews – Baroque
July 2, 2019 – Princeton Found
The Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra Knows How to Turn Something Old Into Something New
By R. Birkel
The Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra continues to play music written before and during the 18th century on period instruments to sold out crowds. The orchestra’s string instruments are strung with catgut, which gives them a lighter texture. In addition to violins and violas, other instruments included a harpsichord, violincello, violone (an early form of the double bass), theorbo (string instrument with a long neck and rounded body with a flat front), oboe, bassoon, horns, percussion, and the harpsichord/organ continuo. [Read more]
June 26, 2019 – U.S. 1
No Short Order of Art or Hope for Trenton A-Team’s Founder
By Dan Aubrey
The A-Team is finishing up its latest event in Princeton — an exhibition of “Music Inspired Art” currently in the McCarter Theater lobby as part of the Princeton Festival and its production of “Nixon in China,” concluding June 30.
The area’s most noted group of “outsider artists,” the A-Team is both humble in that it started at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) and grand in its connection to the human spirit — especially the soul of artist and A-Team co-founder Shorty Rose. [Read more]
June 19, 2019 – U.S. 1
Modern Opera Brings Nixon Era to Princeton Festival
By Ross Amico
John Adams’ “Nixon in China,” which will be presented at McCarter Theater on Sunday, June 23 and 30, as the centerpiece of this year’s Princeton Festival, is a very interesting case. While its subject matter is necessarily political — U.S. President Richard M. Nixon’s historic 1972 visit to China that served to reestablish diplomatic ties between the two countries after nearly a quarter century’s silence — the opera itself is not, at least in the way one might expect. [Read more]
June 3, 2019 – Opera Metro
The Princeton Festival to perform John Adams’ Nixon in China
The Princeton Festival will perform Nixon in China, for sure a daring stretch for a summer music festival, but also perhaps a timely undertaking, considering the world we live in.
OperaMetro (OM) had the privilege to interview two of the principal singers, Sean Anderson (SA) and Rainelle Krause (RK), who will portray Richard Nixon and his wife Pat in the Princeton Festival’s production of the John Adams opera. [Read more]
May 22, 2019 – Opera Wire
Princeton Festival’s ‘Nixon in China’ Wins Major Grant From NEA
By David Salazar
The Princeton Festival has received a $13,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for its upcoming production of “Nixon in China.” … This is the fifth such NEA Grant that the company has been awarded in its 15-year history. The company previously received such a prize in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 from a number of operas, including “Ariodante” and “Porgy and Bess.” [Read more]
May 15, 2019 – Town Topics
An Insider’s View of Broadway For Aspiring Area Teens
By Anne Levin
Last year, the Princeton Festival held a special workshop for high school students interested in musical theater. Seven teenagers attended the three-part, interactive program, getting professional advice on singing and auditioning, and learning the ins-and-outs of navigating the business. [Read more]
May 14, 2019 – Princeton Found
The Princeton Festival Presents Their 15th Anniversary Season
By R Birkel
The Princeton Festival is an amazing extension of the cultural arts season. It brings musical theater, opera, Baroque and choral music, jazz, and a piano competition to town. The best part is we get city caliber performances right here in Princeton. [Read more]
May 10, 2019 – nj arts maven
Making of a Musical Workshop
Princeton Festival’s free “Making of a Musical” workshop prepares high school students for theater success. [Read more]
May 8, 2019 – Town Topics
Thanking Everyone Who Helped With Princeton Festival’s Anniversary Gala
Letter to the Editor from Executive and Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk and Board Chair Costa Papastephanou
We were enormously gratified to welcome the largest crowd ever to the Princeton Festival’s 15th Anniversary Gala, dubbed “A Crystal Celebration,” on April 27. We want to thank everyone who helped put the event together, and everyone who participated in the fun, for supporting our 2019 season of opera, jazz, musical theater, concerts, and free community programs. This landmark season runs from June 9 to June 30. Performance and ticketing information is available at www.princetonfestival.com. [Read more]
March 13, 2019 – Town Topics
Former Charleston Mayor Visit To Share Story of Revitalization
By Anne Levin
Joseph P. Riley, Jr., whose four decades as mayor of Charleston, North Carolina, transformed the city from an urban wasteland to a highly desirable place to live, visit, and do business, came to Princeton last week [at the invitation of The Princeton Festival] to share his success story. [Read more]
March 13, 2019 – U.S. 1
Lesson from Charleston
By Richard K. Rein
What’s the secret sauce that helps create a great city? An engaged and diverse populace? A dynamic business community? A vibrant arts community? All of the above? [Read more]