Music by John Adams
Libretto by Alice Goodman
Richard Tang Yuk, Conductor
John Adams’s opera Nixon in China imbues a world-changing political event with the emotional charge more commonly found in personal dramas and mythological stories. Its poetic libretto is set to exciting and expressive music. While this contemporary masterpiece is relevant to today’s political and international situation, it also reminds us that human stories and motivations lie behind all political action.
Sung in English with English supertitles
Reserved Seating $45 - $150
Student Rush ½ price with ID on performance day
Free "Meet the Artists" reception on Opening Night
John Adams’ opera Nixon in China tells the story of Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to the People’s Republic of China, a politically significant act that ended 25 years of silence between two major nations.
The opera begins at the tarmac when Air Force One lands in China. Richard and Pat Nixon are greeted by a military chorus singing of “Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention.” Nixon speaks of his hopes for the two countries, uttering a line that underscores a theme of this opera: “News has a kind of mystery.”
As the opera progresses, we are introduced to an enigmatic Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, his power-hungry wife, the sympathetic and thoughtful Chinese premier Chou En Lai, the calculating U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and three secretaries to Mao. The principal characters reveal their unique feelings about China’s Cultural Revolution, and their own backstories weave together to build a framework of human experience behind the dissolution of the historic opposition between two world powers.
John Adams sets the story of Alice Goodman’s marvelous libretto to a score that miraculously combines neo-romantic emotion with the pulsing minimalist rhythm of modern life. The score melds European and American influences, from Wagnerian opera to big-band ballads. There are arias, choruses, even a fox-trot – and it all works.
Nixon in China is a work of magnificent musical storytelling, but it also encourages the audience to think deeply about the power of performance and the nature of political speech. It is an opera for our time.
“Sean Anderson’s Count [in the Festival’s 2015 Figaro] dominated the action … smooth, flexible, resonant voice.” – Opera News
“The voice was pure, the intonation absolute. She was a pleasure to hear.” – The Herald Times; “Vivacious!” – Opera News
“He sang … with authority.” – operawarhorses.com; “Clarity of tone, ringing high notes.” – Opera Magazine
“Young soprano Teresa Castillo … imbued the role’s coloratura with equal turns ardor and unshakeable dread.” – Opera News
Festival favorite in Peter Grimes (2016), Fidelio (2017). “Vocally robust … lyrically malevolent.” – Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
“His robust singing is outdone only by his near-maniacal acting ability.” – Wayne F. Anthony, The Toledo Blade
Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, featured soloist with Indiana University’s New Music Ensemble NOTUS.
“Emily Marvosh’s luminous contralto voice glorified all it touched.” – Boston Globe
“The clear-voiced mezzo-soprano Kristin Gornstein [sang] an evocative, liturgical vocal line.” – The New York Times