The Met: Live in HD presents Nixon in China at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts February 12



Image: Nixon in China operaJohn Adams' "Nixon in China" - one of the most important operas written in the past 30 years - has its Met premiere in a production by Peter Sellars, on Saturday, Feb. 12 when The Met: Live in HD presents the opera in a live transmission at the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University at 1 p.m. There will be an encore broadcast at 6 p.m. Tickets are $22 general, $20 seniors, $15 children and students. "Nixon in China" is an Arts & Minds presentation.

"All of my operas have dealt on deep psychological levels with our American mythology," says composer Adams, who conducts the Met premiere of his most famous opera. "The meeting of Nixon and Mao is a mythological moment in world history, particularly American history." Acclaimed director and longtime Adams collaborator Sellars makes his Met debut with this groundbreaking 1987 work, an exploration of the human truths beyond the headlines surrounding President Nixon's 1972 encounter with Communist China.

Baritone James Maddalena stars in the title role with Janis Kelly as Pat Nixon. The opera features Kathleen Kim, Robert Brubaker, Russell Braun and Richard Paul Fink.

From its 1987 premiere in Houston, "Nixon in China" challenged long-held operatic conventions, bringing the forces of contemporary history and its political leaders to the mythic level of art. Adams' score, Alice Goodman's libretto, and Sellars' staging, much of it based on contemporary television and newspaper imagery, together with Mark Morris' choreography, produced a theatrical experience that was both entertaining and profoundly thought-provoking.

Now, almost 25 years later, "Nixon" sheds light on a time when China was portrayed as a dark, looming menace. In Adams' view, China today is a "strangely schizophrenic society..." with a hectic capitalist economy yet one that politically retains many of the Communist principles of Mao. Sellars speaks to the current relationship between the U.S. and China and to the opera's relevance today: "China is now our banker and President Hu ... is trying to figure out how to make the West more like China - fewer freedoms, fewer rights, higher productivity and lower wages. The production reflects these developments."

The director acknowledges that he and the composer envisioned "Nixon in China" as "anti-grand opera originally and now it's beautiful that at the Met it can be genuinely grand. The work was made by a group of very young, very idealistic people. We were trying to show what opera can contribute to history, which is to deepen it and move it into its more subtle, nuanced and mysterious corners, which might just open into more surprising and satisfying possibilities for a future."

The production of "Nixon in China" contains some adult content that may not be appropriate for young children.

Tickets are available at fairfield.edu/quick or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. Special offers and discounts are available through the Quick Center's e-mail list. Join, by contacting boxoffice@quickcenter.com. Become a fan of the Quick Center for the Arts on Facebook and keep up-to-date with the latest performance news, plus special offers and discounts. Find the Quick Center at www.facebook.com/FairfieldQuickCenter.

Running time: Approximately 4 hours

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Directions: Fairfield University is located off I-95, exit 22 at 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824. Access to the Quick Center for the Arts is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Special note: From Oct. 4, 2010 through June 30, 2012, the southern end of North Benson Road (Rt. 135) will be closed to traffic on nights and weekends. Round Hill Road intersects with Barlow and provides access to the Quick Center for the Arts.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 1, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 183