Friday, 11 February 2011

Nixon In China

I wrote here last March about the contemporary composer John Adams. Tomorrow, Saturday 12th, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast a live performance from New York of John Adams’ opera Nixon In China. It is also being transmitted live, in High Definition, to hundreds of cinemas around the world (London’s Barbican is sold out).

The opera deals with the American mythology of President Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China when he met Chairman Mao.

My old friend Janis Kelly, in her Met debut, sings the role of Pat Nixon, the First Lady, the part she created in London in 2000. Janis has wowed the US critics this week:

Soprano Janis Kelly was a splendid, bright Pat Nixon. (Wall Street Journal). The soprano Janis Kelly, in her Met debut, was wonderful as Pat Nixon. (New York Times). Janis Kelly did herself proud in her company debut, portraying Pat Nixon (Washington Post). The audience enjoyed some fine performances, particularly that of Scottish soprano Janis Kelly, whose lyric voice and flawless American diction lent charm to Pat Nixon (New York Post). Soprano Janis Kelly made her house debut as a tender, sympathetic Pat, who dominated the second act.

John Adams has said: “Nixon in China took two full years to complete. Throughout the composing I felt like I was pregnant with the royal heir, so great was the attention focussed on it by the media and the musical community at large.” Read more on his website.

For context about the historic 1972 meeting between the two leaders see Wikipedia here.

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