GP at the Met: Nixon in China

About the Opera

The Metropolitan Opera’s premiere production of John Adams’ Nixon in China, conducted by the composer and staged by internationally acclaimed director Peter Sellars, will air in primetime on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met Wednesday, June 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). In New York, THIRTEEN will present an encore broadcast on Sunday, June 5 at 12:30 p.m. The program was originally seen live in movie theaters on February 12, 2011 as part of the groundbreaking series, The Met: Live in HD, which transmits live performances to more than 1500 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 46 countries around the world.

The June 1 premiere broadcast of Nixon in China will immediately follow a new American Masters episode (8 p.m., check local listings) about the extraordinary career of Met Music Director James Levine.

Nixon in China stars James Maddalena as Richard Nixon, a role he created at the opera’s world premiere in 1987. With a libretto by American poet Alice Goodman, the opera is based on significant moments during President Nixon’s visit to China in February of 1972, with the key political figures as the lead characters: Nixon, first lady Pat Nixon (Janis Kelly) and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Richard Paul Fink) for the Americans; Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Robert Brubaker), his wife Chiang Ch’ing (Kathleen Kim), and Premier Chou En-lai (Russell Braun) for the Chinese.

The Met’s production features the work of the world premiere production’s design team, including set designer Adrianne Lobel, costume designer Dunya Ramicova, lighting designer James F. Ingalls, and choreographer Mark Morris. Adams, Sellars, Goodman and Morris also collaborated on the opera The Death of Klinghoffer.

Adams, who has conducted his works with many major orchestras, makes his Met debut as conductor of Nixon in China; his opera Doctor Atomic had its Met premiere in 2008 and later aired on Great Performance at the Met.

Maddalena has sung Nixon on many of the world’s leading stages, including the English National Opera, Netherlands Opera, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Washington Opera, and the Théâtre du Châtelet. Kelly, who also starred with Maddalena in the recent English National Opera revival of the opera, made her Met debut as Pat Nixon. Kathleen Kim, who won critical plaudits for her Zerbinetta and Olympia in recent seasons, takes on the challenging coloratura role of Chiang Ch’ing, the forbidding and formidable wife of Mao Tse-tung. Brubaker has sung in many 20th-century works at the Met, including Moses und Aron, The Makropoulos Case, Peter Grimes, and the Met premiere of Busoni’s Doktor Faust. Braun is best-known to Met audiences for his Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Fink sang principal roles in the Met premieres of Adams’ Doctor Atomic and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby.

Great Performances at the Met: Nixon in China was directed for the live HD transmission by Peter Sellars and hosted by Met baritone Thomas Hampson. Jay David Saks is the music producer. The performance is sung in English with subtitles.

Great Performances is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Irene Diamond Fund, Vivian Milstein, the Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and Joseph A. Wilson. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Additional funding for Great Performances at the Met: Nixon in China was provided by M. Beverly and Robert G. Bartner.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.