Getting ready for the Nixon in China experiencePosted: 14 March 2010
It might have been because it was part of the Cultural Olympiad. It might have been amplified when I decided to read up on the subject by reading Margaret Macmillan’s recent history on “The Week That Changed the World”. But getting my ticket for one of the performances at Vancouver Opera’s staging (and Canadian premiere) of American composer John Adams’ Nixon in China sealed the deal, and based on some reviews from opening night, I will probably not be disappointed.
Even though I’ve always been interested in 20th-century American history, I’ve never had the chance to examine Nixon’s ground-breaking visit to China in February 1972. Reading Macmillan’s Nixon in China (2006) gave me the chance to see the multiple layers that this visit entailed, and why it proved opportunistic for both the USA and China. In addition to the Tuesday performance of the opera, I’m also attending a conversation with Margaret Macmillan the following night. It should be interesting to see what additional insights she can provide.
As for the opera, this will only be the 2nd performance of VO I’ll be watching. The first one was Magic Flute in 2007. It was CBC Radio Two’s 2006 live broadcast of the Ring Cycle that got me interested in opera. While I do have bits and pieces of the popular ones in my music library, I hadn’t experienced a complete live performance until I decided to go to the Magic Flute. Granted, Nixon in China should be a different beast, given the minimalist style and the English-language libretto, but it will still be worth watching.
(Illustration by Edel Rodriguez for Vancouver Opera)