Engineer: John Newton Producer: Philip Waldway Vocals: Dawn Upshaw Composer: John Adams Lyricist: Alice Goodman
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(Smiling and waving, Mrs. Nixon and her entourage leave the commune and proceed to the next stop on her tour: the Summer Palace where she is photographed strolling through the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the Hall of Happiness in Longevity, the Hall of Dispelling the Clouds, and the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha. She pauses in the gate of Longevity and Good Will to sing)
PAT This is prophetic! I foresee a time will come when luxury dissolves into the atmosphere like a perfume, and everywhere the simple virtues root and branch and leaf and flower. On that bench there we’ll relax and taste the fruit of all our actions. Why regret life which is so much like a dream? Let the eternal plan resume. In the bedroom communities let us be taken by surprise. Yes! Let the band play on and on, let the stand-up comedian finish his act, let Gypsy Rose kick off her high-heeled party shoes; let interested businessmen speculate further, let routine dull the edge of mortality. Let days grow imperceptibly longer, let the sun set in cloud; let lonely drivers on the road pull over for a bite to eat, let the farmer switch on the light over the porch, let passer by look in at the large family around the table, let them pass. Let the expression on the face of the Statue of Liberty change just a little, let her see what lies inland: across the plain one man is marching... the Unknown Soldier has risen from his tomb, let him be recognized at home. The Prodigal. Give him his share: the eagle nailed to the barn door. Let him be quick. The sirens wail as bride and groom kiss through the veil. Bless this union with all its might, let it remain inviolate.
(There is some clapping, then the First Lady is ushered into the limousine for the ride to the Ming Tombs, where ancient Chinese emperors were laid to rest. It is about four o’clock in the afternoon and the warm- colored light which precedes sunset in the very early spring illuminates the limestone statues. Or are they sandstone? The First Lady pats the pockmarked leg of an archaic elephant. She has put on her mink hat during the drive. She revels in the quiet ... no traffic, no airplanes, no loudspeakers, only the sound of the human voice and the sound of footsteps on flagstones and new snow)