Nixon in China, Houston Grand Opera, 1987
June 7, 2010 6:20 PM   Subscribe

We've had excerpts before, but this is the full performance. Nixon in China, with music by John Adams, libretto by Alice Goodman and choreography by Mark Morris. Directed by Peter Sellars, conducted by John DeMain, and presented by Walter Chronkite. Houston Grand Opera, 1987. Parts 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
posted by Navelgazer (17 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
It's Peter Sellers and Walter Cronkite.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:58 PM on June 7, 2010

I'll give you Cronkite (sorry about that one) but no, in this case, it's Sellars.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:03 PM on June 7, 2010

No, it's Sellars.

Also, it's coming to the Met in 2011! I, for one, can't wait.
posted by Bromius at 7:04 PM on June 7, 2010

Whoa. Lucky guy.

It's a shame my last name isn't Rockafeller.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:08 PM on June 7, 2010

Department of things I woulda, coulda, shoulda when I was at Rice. Middle age is full of youthful regrets about operas you didn't see.
posted by immlass at 7:29 PM on June 7, 2010

Awesome. I love the score, but I've never actually seen it. The only thing is that I'm not crazy about watching it cut up into bits on YouTube. A little googling told me where I can buy in on DVD for $10.
posted by grumblebee at 7:46 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Even better than "Nixon in China" (in my opinion) is "Foxtrot for Orchestra," a piece Adams wrote as a study for the opera. It shares themes with the opera but is it's own piece.

You can listen to it on this NPR page. Click the little icon under "Hear the Music."

(Mao was married to a movie actress. You can here her theme when "minimalism" gives way to a swelling, romantic, Hollywood sound.)

It's about 13-minutes long. Whenever I listen to it, and it gets to the end, I can't bare it being over. I play it again. I think one day I listened to it five times in a row.
posted by grumblebee at 7:58 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

grumblebee: I've been sucked into Civilzation IV for the past month to an unhealthy degree. I just came across Nixon in China earlier today when a friend linked me to it, and damned if several of the most amazing earwormy pieces of score from Civ IV don't come directly from this (notably "The Chairman Dances" and whatever the Chinese opening number is called (you know what I mean - "The people are the heroes now...")

Amazing stuff indeed.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:10 PM on June 7, 2010

The phrase "Nixon in China" has the same rhythm as the phrase "Springtime for Hitler," I just realized.

posted by randomkeystrike at 8:13 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, I haven't seen this one but I'll wait for your Doctor Atomic FPP so I can bitch about Adams and Sellars there.
posted by griphus at 8:34 PM on June 7, 2010

(There's murmuring down below!)
It's Prime Time in the USA!
posted by Faux Real at 9:35 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Can I just put in a little plug for my half-hometown of Houston being an incredible place for the arts? Despite the rabid small-mindedness of Texas overall, there's a long tradition in Houston of very serious contemporary high-arts philanthropy.
posted by treepour at 10:05 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love this crazy show. Adams sets the subject matter perfectly. I went to see ENO's production with a sweet Scotsman who left me an answerphone message the next day singing Madame Mao's aria. Good times, good times.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:04 AM on June 8, 2010

I've always enjoyed the highlights from this opera (the Chairman Dances CD captures most of them), but the two CD set didn't speak much to me. When I saw the opera in person, (in Portland a few years ago), I was blown away by how much I enjoyed every darn minute.
posted by dylanjames at 9:09 AM on June 8, 2010

I love, love this opera. Nixon's first aria ("News!") shows, for me, how an old artistic medium like opera can still illuminate contemporary changes and events.

Also, it's coming to the Met in 2011! I, for one, can't wait.

I will have to go to NY for this.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2010

Also: Nixon in China is part of the Met's HD telecast series next year. Catch it at a movie theater near you in February 2011!
posted by LooseFilter at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2010

There was a fantastic production of Nixon in China in Vancouver this year. I can honestly say that it was an opera I'd been waiting to see for 23 years-- since I'd seen the broadcast on PBS in 1987-- and there was no disappointment. I SPEAK ACCORDING TO THE BOOK THE BOOK THE BOOK
posted by jokeefe at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2010

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