Deutsche Oper Berlin 4 July 2024 - Nixon in China |

Nixon in China

Deutsche Oper Berlin, Main Stage, Berlin, Germany
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7:30 PM

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Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Berlin, Germany
Starts at: 19:30

E-tickets: Print at home or at the box office of the event if so specified. You will find more information in your booking confirmation email.

You can only select the category, and not the exact seats.
If you order 2 or 3 tickets: your seats will be next to each other.
If you order 4 or more tickets: your seats will be next to each other, or, if this is not possible, we will provide a combination of groups of seats (at least in pairs, for example 2+2 or 2+3).


Two of the world’s most powerful men shake hands – as the world looks on.

About the work
With their opera about the state visit by US President Nixon to China in 1972 composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman rendered a recent historical event in operatic form. They envisioned a "heroic opera" telling of modern myths and the power of images. This rapprochement between the two great powers gave rise to one of the most prodigious media spectacles of the 20th century. Nixon himself put the event on a par with the moon landing. The opera, whose composition was pushed for by Peter Sellars, the director of the eventual premiere, is a depiction of both the details of the visit and the coverage by the media. Alice Goodman’s libretto reflects the tradition of 19th-century opera, with larger-than-life characters interacting and the protagonists dealing with both affairs of state and their private lives. Staged in the style of an excessively satirical documentary, the minimal-music opera sticks close to protocols from the state visit, depicting the larger-than-life protagonists swerving between exhibitionism, helplessness and the desire to reach a mutual understanding.

36 years after the world premiere this will be the first new production of NIXON IN CHINA to be mounted by the Deutsche Oper Berlin. With his works featuring prominently on opera house programmes, John Adams is, alongside Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, one of the key exponents of minimal music, an art form that sprang up in the 1960s as a response to the European avant-garde. Yet the opera, arguably Adams’s best known, eludes this kind of narrow categorisation due to its hybrid character, even if it is emblematic of the minimal-music style. With its rich tonal orchestrations and trancelike repetitions, the work shows sound wizard John Adams including flurries of big-band swing and allusions to European classical music.

About the production
Hauen und Stechen, the musical-theatre collective centring on Julia Lwowski and Franziska Kronfoth, is known for its performative authorial style and its topical, genre-blending theatre evenings. Their staging of NIXON IN CHINA focuses primarily on the propaganda aspect of the summit, which pointedly avoided discussing delicate issues such as the Vietnam War and the status of Taiwan. Following on from their stage event in response to Rossini’s IL VIAGGIO A REIMS as part of the AMBUSHED FROM BEHIND series, the collective now returns to the Deutsche Oper Berlin with its first production for the main stage.

Premiere of this production: 22 October 1987, Wortham Theater Center, Houston

Nixon in China is an opera in three acts by John Adams with a libretto by Alice Goodman. Adams's first opera, it was inspired by U.S. president Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China.


Time: February 1972.
Place: In and around Peking.

Act 1

At Peking Airport, contingents of the Chinese military await the arrival of the American presidential aircraft "Spirit of '76", carrying Nixon and his party. The military chorus sings the Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention. After the aircraft touches down, Nixon emerges with Pat Nixon and Henry Kissinger. The president exchanges stilted greetings with the Chinese premier, Chou En-lai, who heads the welcoming party. Nixon speaks of the historical significance of the visit, and of his hopes and fears for the encounter ("News has a kind of mystery"). The scene changes to Chairman Mao's study, where the Chairman awaits the arrival of the presidential party. Nixon and Kissinger enter with Chou, and Mao and the president converse in banalities as photographers record the scene. In the discussion that follows, the westerners are confused by Mao's gnomic and frequently impenetrable comments, which are amplified by his secretaries and often by Chou. The scene changes again, to the evening's banquet in the Great Hall of the People. Chou toasts the American visitors ("We have begun to celebrate the different ways") and Nixon responds ("I have attended many feasts"), after which the toasts continue as the atmosphere becomes increasingly convivial. Nixon, a politician who rose to prominence on anti-communism, announces: "Everyone, listen; just let me say one thing. I opposed China, I was wrong".

Act 2

Pat Nixon is touring the city, with guides. Factory workers present her with a small model elephant which, she delightedly informs them, is the symbol of the Republican Party which her husband leads. She visits a commune where she is greeted enthusiastically, and is captivated by the children's games that she observes in the school. "I used to be a teacher many years ago", she sings, "and now I'm here to learn from you". She moves on to the Summer Palace, where in a contemplative aria ("This is prophetic") she envisages a peaceful future for the world. In the evening the presidential party, as guests of Mao's wife Chiang Ch'ing, attends the Peking Opera for a performance of a political ballet-opera The Red Detachment of Women. This depicts the downfall of a cruel and unscrupulous landlord's agent (played by an actor who strongly resembles Kissinger) at the hands of brave women revolutionary workers. The action deeply affects the Nixons; at one point Pat rushes onstage to help a peasant girl she thinks is being whipped to death. As the stage action ends, Chiang Ch'ing, angry at the apparent misinterpretation of the piece's message, sings a harsh aria ("I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung"), praising the Cultural Revolution and glorifying her own part in it. A revolutionary chorus echoes her words.

Act 3
On the last evening of the visit, as they lie in their respective beds, the chief protagonists muse on their personal histories in a surreal series of interwoven dialogues. Nixon and Pat recall the struggles of their youth; Nixon evokes wartime memories ("Sitting round the radio"). Mao and Chiang Ch'ing dance together, as the Chairman remembers "the tasty little starlet" who came to his headquarters in the early days of the revolution. As they reminisce, Chiang Ch'ing asserts that "the revolution must not end". Chou meditates alone; the opera finishes on a thoughtful note with his aria "I am old and I cannot sleep", asking: "How much of what we did was good?" The early morning birdcalls are summoning him to resume his work, while "outside this room the chill of grace lies heavy on the morning grass".

Venue Info

Deutsche Oper Berlin - Berlin
Location   Bismarckstraße 35

Venue's Capacity: 1698

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second-largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet. Since 2004 the Deutsche Oper Berlin, like the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera), the Komische Oper Berlin, the Berlin State Ballet, and the Bühnenservice Berlin (Stage and Costume Design), has been a member of the Berlin Opera Foundation.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. In 1925, after the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera).

With the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry and the singer Alexander Kipnis, followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, in what was now West Berlin, the company, again called Städtische Oper, used the nearby Theater des Westens; its opening production was Fidelio, on 4 September 1945. Its home was finally rebuilt in 1961 but to a much-changed, sober design by Fritz Bornemann. The opening production of the newly named Deutsche Oper, on 24 September, was Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Past Generalmusikdirektoren (GMD, general music directors) have included Bruno Walter, Kurt Adler, Ferenc Fricsay, Lorin Maazel, Gerd Albrecht, Jesús López-Cobos, and Christian Thielemann. In October 2005, the Italian conductor Renato Palumbo was appointed GMD as of the 2006/2007 season. In October 2007, the Deutsche Oper announced the appointment of Donald Runnicles as their next Generalmusikdirektor, effective August 2009, for an initial contract of five years. Simultaneously, Palumbo and the Deutsche Oper mutually agreed to terminate his contract, effective November 2007.

On the evening of 2 June 1967, Benno Ohnesorg, a student taking part in the German student movement, was shot in the streets around the opera house. He had been protesting against the visit to Germany by the Shah of Iran, who was attending a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

In 1986 the American Berlin Opera Foundation was founded.

In April 2001, the Italian conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli died at the podium while conducting Verdi's Aida, at age 54.

In September 2006, the Deutsche Oper's Intendantin (general manager) Kirsten Harms drew criticism after she cancelled the production of Mozart's opera Idomeneo by Hans Neuenfels, because of fears that a scene in it featuring the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad would offend Muslims, and that the opera house's security might come under threat if violent protests took place. Critics of the decision include German Ministers and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The reaction from Muslims has been mixed — the leader of Germany's Islamic Council welcomed the decision, whilst a leader of Germany's Turkish community, criticising the decision, said:

This is about art, not about politics ... We should not make art dependent on religion — then we are back in the Middle Ages.

At the end of October 2006, the opera house announced that performances of Mozart's opera Idomeneo would then proceed. Kirsten Harms, after announcing in 2009 that she would not renew her contract beyond 2011, was bid farewell in July of that year.

Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Berlin, Germany
Starts at: 19:30
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