It's about modern American history! How more monumental of a contemporary subject can we get than Nixon opening up US/China relations? (Well okay, an opera about the Cuban missile crisis would be awesome, but that probably won't happen for a while). Pretty fabulous if you ask me. And to top it off, the opera's in English :)
There should be more buzz surrounding the event, given that both countries are now the two largest economies in the world... and that Obama just held a state dinner for Hu Jintao... and that Michelle's dress was gorgeous!
Alex Ross explains in his book, The Rest is Noise, why Americans should be so excited about this opera :
"Nixon in China, Adams's first opera, brings about an even more dramatic transformation of European form. Nothing seems more inherently unlikely than the idea of a great American opera - possibly the greatest since Porgy and Bess - based on the events surrounding President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972. When the director Peter Sellars first proposed the subject, Adams assumed he was joking. At the premiere, which took place at the Houston Grand Opera on October 22, 1987, many critics thought the same. Yet Sellars knew what he was doing. By yanking opera into an a universally familiar contemporary setting, he was almost forcing his composer to clean out all the cobwebs of the European past. Adams also had the advantage of an extraordinary libretto by the poet Alice Goodman. Many lines come straight from the documentary record - the speeches and poetry of Chairman Mao, the fune-spun oratory of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, the convoluted utterances and memoirs of Nixon - but they coalesce into an epic poem of recent history, a dream narrative in half-rhyming couplets."
So okay, mom. I know you are considering coming up to NYC for a weekend. And don't get me wrong, I do love our dinner/broadway/Silvio Rodriguez outings. But if there's a glimmer of hope in you enjoying an opera, this is it. Come on.... just do it. Don't worry, I won't make you stand.