Nixon in China is an opera in three acts by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman. Adams' first opera, it was inspired by U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China. The work premiered at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987, in a production by Peter Sellars with choreography by Mark Morris. When Sellars approached Adams with the idea for the opera in 1983, Adams was initially reluctant, but eventually decided that the work could be a study in how myths come to be, and accepted the project. Goodman's libretto was the result of considerable research into Nixon's visit, though she disregarded most sources published after the 1972 trip.
To create the sounds he sought, Adams augmented the orchestra with a large saxophone section, additional percussion, and electronic synthesizer. Although sometimes described as minimalist, the score displays a variety of musical styles, embracing minimalism after the manner of Philip Glass alongside passages echoing 19th-century composers such as Wagner and Johann Strauss. With these ingredients, Adams mixes Stravinskian 20th-century neoclassicism, jazz references, and big band sounds reminiscent of Nixon's youth in the 1930s. The combination of these elements varies frequently, to reflect changes in the onstage action.
Performances & Interviews
- John Adams: Nixon in Chinahttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01s4f3f.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01s4f3f.jpg2012-09-05T19:27:00.000ZLouise Fryer hosts a discussion in which writer and broadcaster Rana Mitter and journalist Shuyun Sun debate the political context of John Adams' first opera Nixon in China.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/b01mf8c3
John Adams: Nixon in ChinaLouise Fryer hosts a discussion in which writer and broadcaster Rana Mitter and journalist Shuyun Sun debate the political context of John Adams' first opera Nixon in China.
- Adams: Nixon in Chinahttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0224v96.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p0224v96.jpg2014-07-11T16:25:00.000ZProms Music Guide: Tom Service on John Adams' Nixon in Chinahttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p022nsfx
Adams: Nixon in ChinaProms Music Guide: Tom Service on John Adams' Nixon in China