Nixon in China

More info on Nixon in China


John Coolidge Adams


Alice Goodman


22nd october 1987, Houston (Brown Theater, Wortham




Nixon in China Synopsis


Nixon in China Libretto


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About the opera Nixon in China

Nixon in China is an opera in three acts by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman. Adams' first opera, it was inspired by the 1972 visit to China by US President Richard Nixon. The work premiered at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987, in a production by Peter Sellars with choreography by Mark Morris. When Sellars approached Adams with the idea for the opera in 1985, Adams was initially reluctant, but eventually decided that the work could be a study in how myths come to be, and accepted the project. Goodman's libretto was the result of considerable research into Nixon's visit, though she disregarded most sources published after 1972.
To create the sounds he sought, Adams augmented the orchestra with a large saxophone section, additional percussion, and electronic synthesizer. Although sometimes described as "minimalist", the score displays a variety of musical styles, embracing minimalism after the manner of Philip Glass alongside passages echoing 19th century composers such as Wagner and Johann Strauss. With these ingredients, Adams mixes Stravinskian 20th century neoclassicism, jazz references, and big band sounds reminiscent of Nixon's youth in the 1930s. The combination of these elements varies frequently, to reflect changes in the onstage action.

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Roles in Nixon in China

Richard Nixon Baritone
Pat Nixon Soprano
Chou En-lai Baritone
Mao Tse-tung Tenor
Henry Kissinger Bass
Chiang Ch'ing Soprano
First secretary to Mao Mezzo-Soprano
Second secretary to Mao Contralto

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All scenes from Nixon in China

Arias from Nixon in China

Nr.Title sceneOperaComposerActTypeVoicesLang.Roles
1Soldiers of heaven hold the skyNixon in ChinaAdams1.01choirn/aEnglishSoldiers
2Your flight was smoothNixon in ChinaAdams1.02recitativeBr BrEnglishChou/Nixon
3News has a kind of mysteryNixon in ChinaAdams1.03-1ariabaritoneEnglishNixon
4We live in an unsettled timeNixon in ChinaAdams1.03-2ariabaritoneEnglishNixon
5I can't talk very wellNixon in ChinaAdams1.04recitativeT Br BrEnglishMao/Nixon/Chou
6Ah! the philosopher I seeNixon in ChinaAdams1.05recitativeT Br B BrEnglishMao/Nixon/Kissinger/Chou
7You know we'll meet with confrereNixon in ChinaAdams1.06recitativeT Br B BrEnglishMao/Nixon/Kissinger/Chou
8We no longer need ConfuciusNixon in ChinaAdams1.07ariatenorEnglishMao
9Like the Ming tombsNixon in ChinaAdams1.08ariabaritoneEnglishNixon
10If we by chance escape her mawNixon in ChinaAdams1.09recitativeT Br Br BEnglishMao/Nixon/Chou/Kissinger
11The night is youngNixon in ChinaAdams1.10recitativeBr S Br BEnglishNixon/Pat/Chou/Kissinger
12Ladies and gentlemenNixon in ChinaAdams1.11ariabaritoneEnglishChou
13Mr. Premier distinguished guestsNixon in ChinaAdams1.12ariabaritoneEnglishNixon
14This is the hourNixon in ChinaAdams1.13recitativeBr Br S BEnglishChou/Nixon/Pat/Kissinger
15I don't daydream and don't look backNixon in ChinaAdams2.01ariasopranoEnglishPat
16Look down at the earthNixon in ChinaAdams2.02choirn/aEnglishBeijing Villagers
17This is the People's ClinicNixon in ChinaAdams2.03recitative,choirsopranoEnglishPat/Villagers
18This is propheticNixon in ChinaAdams2.04ariasopranoEnglishPat
19At last the weather's warming-upNixon in ChinaAdams2.05recitative,choirsopranoEnglishPat/Villagers
20Young as we areNixon in ChinaAdams2.06triocA cA cAEnglishPrisoners
21Oh! what a dayNixon in ChinaAdams2.07ariabassEnglishKissinger
22How thin you areNixon in ChinaAdams2.08choirn/aEnglishWomen
23Whip her to deathNixon in ChinaAdams2.09recitativeB S BrEnglishKissinger/Pat/Nixon
24Flesh rebelsNixon in ChinaAdams2.10choirn/aEnglishWomen
25I have my briefNixon in ChinaAdams2.11ariabassEnglishKissinger
26It seems so strangeNixon in ChinaAdams2.12recitativesopranoEnglishChiang
27I am the wife of MaoNixon in ChinaAdams2.13ariasopranoEnglishChiang
28Some men you cannot satisfyNixon in ChinaAdams3.01recitativeB Br S Br S TEnglishKissinger/Nixon/Pat/Chou/Chiang/Mao
29I am old and cannot sleepNixon in ChinaAdams3.02ariabaritoneEnglishChou