Nixon in China—completely historical, strangely moving. The subject was suggested to the composer John Adams by the director Peter Sellars, who’d been struck by the complexity of the 1972 event—a cynical act of public relations, perhaps, but also an important breakthrough. Adams was attracted by the mythic quality of the meeting, East and West embodied by Mao Tse-tung and Richard Nixon (respectively a tenor and a baritone). And talk about a cast of supporting characters: Pat Nixon, a soprano; Henry Kissinger, a bass; Madame Mao, a coloratura soprano. The opera, which premiered in 1987, is a must see if you’ve never seen it. —L.J.
Nixon in China, by John Adams was featured in the February 15, 2020 issue of Air Mail. Read on