Starting Over

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nixon in China at the English National Opera

I'm catching up a bit today - so although we went to the opening night (a birthday present from my loved one) you've missed it already.

I was REALLY keen to see this, and disappointed when this was delayed (it was meant to have reopened the refurbished Coliseum in February 2004). Nixon in China is a classic of modern opera. Now, I'm not an opera buff and nowhere near the kind of knowledge and experience of many but I guess I know what I like and love many of John Adams's musical work so this was on my must see list.

The opera depicts Richard Nixon's groundbreaking visit to China in February 1972 - not as satire, but as a historical or heroic opera - and with very much larger than life characters this works. In brief, singing was great, Mark Morris's choreography of Madame Mao's didactic ballet a delight, and the design looks terrific. (Not sure if sur-titles were required but they were relatively easy to ignore)

I was really pleased to be able to clearly hear Adams's minimalist score, setting Alice Goodman's libretto (unlike Glass this is a real libretto and not merely repeated phrases) against repetitive but evolving cycles of notes. A stunning show!


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