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Young as we are

Opera details:

Opera title:

Nixon in China


John Coolidge Adams




Nixon in China Synopsis


Nixon in China Libretto


Not entered yet.

Trio details:






Contralto / Contralto / Contralto



Previous scene: At last the weather's warming-up
Next scene: Oh! what a day

YouTube movie:

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(The curtain rises to reveal an audience. Madame
Mao, in a dark Sun Yatsen suit and black-rimmed
men's glasses, sits between the President and Mrs.
Nixon, Mrs. Nixon, who has changed her scarlet
costume for a pastel-colored one, has been exchanging
small talk with the Premier, who sits on her other side.
We have only a few seconds to grasp these details
before another curtain rises onstage. Three beautiful
young women are chained to posts. The First Lady
sits forward a little, as, indeed, does the President.
The young women wear rags ... and defiantly new ballet
shoes. This is the opening of The Red Detachment of
Women. The dancer in the center, the proudest one, the
one most heavily laden with chains, is Wu Ching-hua,
the heroine. We understand that they are in the lock-up
of an estate on a tropical island. Two women step from
their posts and begin a furious dance. Ching-hua
stands stock-still. Three contraltos from the chorus

Young as we
are we expect fear,
every year
more of us bow
beneath the shadow
of the next blow.
Down on all fours
our grandfathers
swallow abuse
as if by choice
the humble flesh
kisses the lash,
spit and polish,
polish and spit
blacken the boot
and they submit,
embrace the foot,
cushion the kick:
rabbit and snake
dance cheek to cheek.
we are awake,
we know these matters,
how the poor debtors
still sell their daughters,
how in the drought
men still grow fat
on the profit
won grain by grain
from other men
caught in the famine
who trade their oxen
for a day's ration;
then the plow goes,
then tools, then clothes,
at last the land.
Where is the bound,
naked and stunned'
Hand over hand
he drags his skin.
Look at him grin
he can't complain.
Look at that thing
that was his tongue
he won't be long.

English Libretto or Translation:

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