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Nixon in China, Adams
D: Peter Sellars
C: Paul Daniel
English National Opera – Nixon in China

“Nixon in China”, John Adams’s first opera is that rare – if not unique – phenomenon; namely a work which, at its première in Houston in October 1987, concerned people who were still alive and events which occurred some fifteen years beforehand and thus within the audience’s living memory. Over thirty years on from President Nixon’s visit to China, it is perhaps not so easy to appreciate its historical significance. Suffice it to say, the “old cold warrior” (as Alice Goodman’s libretto has Nixon describe himself) effectively ended China’s isolation from the West or, at the very least, started the process whereby full diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic and the United States were restored.

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Only the sound remains, Saariaho
D: Peter Sellars
C: Ernest Martínez Izquierdo
National Premiere
The nô needs Kaija to win : Only The Sound Remains laisse Garnier sans voix

On stage, Philippe Jaroussky and Davóne Tinesdecline their antagonistic presences on all levels: the dress and the white voice of one mingle with the dark bass of the other, all dressed in black, over two rather carnal confrontations, with very little Manichean contours. The union of heaven and earth does not happen without generating a certain stir and above all a nice range of interferences: the voice of the bass-baritone knows how to become aerial and purify itself of any frying, while the sparkling highs of the countertenor emerges a more dissonant metal, a touch more disturbing than elsewhere. These incursions, rather than multiplied by the electronic device, explore some unexpected areas without distorting the voices - they will just leave a doubt on the intrinsic beauty of their timbres to anyone who doubts their dazzling purity, however acclaimed elsewhere. The conclusion of these two dream-shaped pieces, which came about without delay, can only surprise the spectator in full immersion. Who will console himself by telling himself that he has just witnessed two small miracles: that, first of all, of having attended two hours of post-spectral music, staged without any affectation, and of not having never saw the time pass; and that of seeing this music so far from the usual canons, and its composer, so rare representative of this genre and his, so warmly applauded at the Palais Garnier . The times are changing.

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25 January 2018bachtrack.comSuzanne Lay-Canessa

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