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Nixon in China with Dudamel

Sat / Nov 21, 2020 - 8:00PM

An iconic American opera – in a highly acclaimed production – explores the humanity behind history-become-myth.

About this Performance

When director Peter Sellars suggested that John Adams write an opera about President Nixon’s pathbreaking visit to China, Adams was quite reluctant, assuming it would be a satire of figures that had become one-dimensional punchlines for late-night comics. What Adams and Sellars instead created – with the crucial help of poet Alice Goodman’s thoughtful libretto – was an exploration of the humanity of six individuals: Nixon and his wife Pat, Chairman Mao and Madame Mao, Henry Kissinger, and Chou En-lai, in both their darkness and light, ultimately showing how the characters of today’s headlines become tomorrow’s myths.  
 
As each character sings of his/her hopes and fears, the opera’s moods range from wistful to bittersweet to tragically poignant. Musically, Adams achieves a remarkable mix of his version of Minimalism with bits of Wagner, Strauss, Stravinsky, jazz, and the big band sounds of Nixon’s youth. Elkhanah Pulitzer’s inventive production was widely acclaimed when it debuted here.

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