Nixon In China
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January
Friday
20
07:30 PM
January
Sunday
22
02:00 PM
January
Tuesday
24
07:30 PM
January
Thursday
26
07:30 PM
January
Saturday
28
07:30 PM
  • SubjectSubject
  • Running TimeRunning Time
  • AgeAge
  • LanguageLanguage
Language

Sung in English with projected translation

Age

Appropriate for all ages

Running Time

2 hours, 59 minutes
1 intermission

Subject

The Historic Trip that Broke 25 Years of Silence.

 

Nixon in China, an original HGO commission and a pivotal piece of the modern opera repertoire, returns to HGO’s stage on the opera’s 30th anniversary.

 

Composer John Adams’ work focuses on President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 peacemaking visit to China. By blending fact and fiction, the work presents an insightful and compassionate portrayal of a presidential figure often vilified.

 

Click here for libretto by Alice Goodman.

 

Cast and Creative Team

Richard Nixon 

Scott Hendricks 

Pat Nixon

Andriana Chuchman 

Chou En-Lai 

Chen-Ye Yuan

Mao Tse-tung 

Chad Shelton 

Henry Kissinger 

Patrick Carfizzi 

Chiang Ch’ing 

Tracy Dahl

Conductor 

Robert Spano 

Director 

James Robinson 

Set Designer

Allen Moyer

Costume Designer 

James Schuette 

Lighting Designer 

Paul Palazzo 

Projection Designer

Wendall K. Harrington 

Choreographer

Sean Curran 

Sound Designer 

Brian Mohr 

 

Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Richard Bado, Chorus Master
The Sarah and Ernest Butler Chorus Master Chair 

ACT I

Scene 1: the airfield outside Peking

It is a cold, clear, dry morning: Monday, February 21, 1972. Contingents of army, navy, and air force circle the field and sing “The Three Main Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points of Attention.” Premier Chou En-lai, accompanied by a small group of officials, strolls onto the runway just as The Spirit of  ’76 taxis into view. President Nixon disembarks. The two men shake hands and the president sings of his excitement and his fears.

Scene 2

An hour later, President Nixon is in a meeting with Chairman Mao. Mao’s conversational armory contains philosophical apothegms, unexpected political observations, proverbs, and gnomic jokes, and everything he sings is amplified by his secretaries and the premier. It is not easy for a Westerner to hold his own in such a dialogue.

Scene 3

After the audience with Mao, everyone at the first evening’s banquet is euphoric. President and Mrs. Nixon manage to exchange a few words before Premier Chou rises to make the first of the evening’s toasts, a tribute to patriotic fraternity. The president replies, toasting the Chinese people and the hope of peace. The toasts continue, with less formality, as the night goes on.

Intermission

ACT II

Scene 1

Snow has fallen during the night. In the morning, Mrs. Nixon is ushered onstage by her party of guides and journalists. She explains a little of what it feels like for a woman like her to be first lady, and accepts a glass elephant from the workers at the Peking Glass Factory. She visits the Evergreen People’s Commune and the Summer Palace, where she pauses in the Gate of Longevity and Goodwill to sing “This is prophetic!” Then, on to the Ming Tombs before sunset.

Scene 2

In the evening, the Nixons attend a performance of The Red Detachment of Women, a revolutionary ballet devised by Mao’s wife, Chiang Ch’ing. The ballet entwines ideological rectitude with Hollywood-style emotion. The Nixons respond to the latter; they are drawn to the downtrodden peasant girl—in fact they are drawn into the action on the side of simple virtue. This was not precisely what Chiang Ch’ing had in mind. She sings “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung,” ending with full choral backing.

Scene 3

The final night in Peking.

 

Copyright 1987 by Alice Goodman. All rights reserved.

CAST

Scott Hendricks
Richard Nixon
Pat Nixon
Chou En-lai
Chad Shelton
Mao Tse-tung
Patrick Carfizzi
Henry Kissinger
Chiang Ch'ing
First Secretary
Megan Mikailovna Samarin
Second Secretary
Third Secretary

CREATIVE TEAM

Composer
Librettist
Conductor
Director
Set Designer
Costume Designer
Lighting Designer
Projections Designer
Choreographer
Associate Choreographer
Sound Designer/Mixer/Keyboard
Richard Bado
Chorus Master

* HGO debut
** HGO Studio Artist
*** Former HGO Studio Artist
[Scott Hendricks is] gripping...with lots of the requisite snap and snarl in his voice, and a suitably venal stage presence."
-Guardian
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