New York

Nixon In China

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) | Peter Jay Sharp Building

When the title character of Nixon in China stepped out of the doorway of the mock Air Force One presidential jet and gave his familiar, trademark wave to the Brooklyn Academy of Music Opera House crowd, the opera’s conceit was overtly confirmed. The audience roared and applauded, completing the conceptual circuit between the public’s real-life love/hate relationship with the former president and its unabashed delight in seeing that connection portrayed in art. As an operatic idea, Nixon in China was one of those rare spectacles—a serious portrayal of a contemporary political subject and a freewheeling imaginative version of a historical event.

That the opera owed many of its best dramatic moments to the staging precedents of Robert Wilson (especially Einstein on the Beach) only dimmed the fun a bit; after all, Wilson himself is an accomplished synthesizer and recycler of ideas from a variety

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