Magazine article Opera Canada

Nixon in China

Magazine article Opera Canada

Nixon in China

Article excerpt

NIXON IN CHINA

JOHN ADAMS

Naxos: 8.669022-24

This is the second commercial recording of John Adams's opera about the 1972 rapprochement between East and West embodied in the iconic meeting between America's Richard Nixon and China's Mao Tse-tung. The first recording (Nonesuch 79177), released in 1988, documented the original staging. This latest is of live performances at Colorado Opera almost exactly 20 years later. One member of the original cast also appears in the Denver recordings--Thomas Hammons in the rather whimsical role (in this opera anyway) of Henry Kissinger. Interestingly, Hammons will be on hand for the Canadian premiere of the work by Vancouver Opera next March, as will the later recording's Nixon (Robert Orth), Madame Mao (Tracy Dahl) and Chou En-lai (Chen-Ye Yuan).

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Nixon is blessed with a beautifully crafted libretto by Alice Goodman. Of this, the composer himself has written that her "words are ... an incantation of the American experience, and her Nixon is our presidential Everyman. …

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