Music: Stagecraft As Soulcraft

Nixon, Mao and Chou En-lai meet again -- in Houston

It is the most eagerly anticipated, and potentially incendiary, musical premiere of the year: an opera about Richard Nixon's landmark visit to the People's Republic of China that also includes Pat Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai among its cast of characters. Although it is sure to provoke strong emotions and conflicting opinions, Nixon in China, currently on display at the Houston Grand Opera, is the most important new opera since Philip Glass gave voice to Mohandas Gandhi in Satyagraha seven years ago.

At first glance Nixon seems an unlikely subject, treated by an equally unlikely trio of Harvard...

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