The Nixon Tapes

Opera Australia The Nixon TapesJohn Adams, Bryce Dessner, and Jonny Greenwood are living composers with something to say – especially when given an orchestra and a few superhuman voices to say it with – this is an extraordinary era for music.

Performing for the first time as part of the Vivid LIVE program, Opera Australia presents a remarkable program of contemporary works by musical giants, Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) and Bryce Dessner (The National), culminating in the Sydney premiere of The Nixon Tapes – scenes from John Adams’ operatic debut Nixon in China, refashioned for the concert hall by the composer himself, and featuring some of Australia’s finest soloists.

The Opera Australia Orchestra begins the evening with orchestral works by Greenwood and Dessner. Both musicians play in bands renowned for their invention and musicality. These qualities brilliantly manifest in Greenwood’s cinematic Popcorn Superhet Receiver. He adapted the work to score the 2007 Oscar-winning film, There Will be Blood. Dessner’s unsettling St Carolyn by the Sea is a perfect partner.

This concert joins a series around the world celebrating Adams at 70. Adams’ debut opera Nixon in China was startling in its simplicity: an elegant, melodic representation of a moment that changed history. At its premiere, the opera was called “an operatic triumph of grave and thought-provoking beauty” (Chicago Sun-Tribune). Three decades have not diminished its class or significance – it remains a compelling work.

In The Nixon Tapes, five Opera Australia soloists: Eva Kong (Madame Mao Tse-tung), Christopher Tonkin (Chou En-Lai), Luke Gabbedy (Richard Nixon), David Parkin (Henry Kissinger), and Jane Ede (Pat Nixon), join the Opera Australia Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Andrew Mogrelia, to perform highlights of the score – including the iconic landing of the presidential plane and Madame Mao’s terrifying, I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung.

The Nixon Tapes
Concert Hall – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point (Sydney)
Performance: Monday 5 June 2017 – 7.30pm

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Image: courtesy of Opera Australia