COC Media Releases


COC Premiere of Nixon in China relives five days that changed the world

Toronto, Ontario – A defining moment in modern-day history takes centre stage this winter with the Canadian Opera Company premiere of John Adams' Nixon in China.  Richard Nixon's historic five-day trip to China in 1972 was a media phenomenon viewed simultaneously by millions at home on their television sets.  Adams' unique lyrical score for Nixon in China intertwines occasions of grand, public spectacle with moments of quiet, private reflection to transform a political event into a story with universal appeal and significance.  American James Robinson returns to the COC to direct this highly-lauded and widely-seen production with award-winning Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado making his Canadian debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus.  Sung in English with English SURTITLES™, Nixon in China runs for eight performances on Feb. 5, 9, 11, 13, 19, 22, 24 and 26, 2011.

Nixon in China had its world premiere at Houston Grand Opera in 1987, followed quickly by performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Netherlands Opera.  One of the major operas of the 20th century, Nixon in China has spawned numerous productions that have been received all over the world, and, along with Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach, is considered one of the cornerstones of American Minimalist music. 

The COC premiere of Nixon in China brings together several cast members who have appeared in this production since its first staging at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2004.  Hailed by critics in his "sensational portrayal of Richard Nixon" (Houston Chronicle) is leading American baritone Robert Orth, last seen with the COC in 1990's The Barber of Seville, and American soprano Maria Kanyova revisits her critically-acclaimed role as Pat Nixon in her COC debut.  New to this production, and the COC, is British tenor Adrian Thompson as Chairman Mao, who previously sang this role with English National Opera.  Baritone Chen-Ye Yuan appears with the COC for the first time, revisiting the role of Premier Chou En-lai.  American bass-baritone Thomas Hammons makes his COC debut portraying Nixon’s diplomatic advisor Henry Kissinger, a role he created for the opera's world premiere, and subsequently performed in Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Los Angeles.  Making her COC and role debut as Madame Mao is American soprano Marisol Montalvo, whose stage and vocal presence has made her a regular performer with many of the world’s finest opera houses.

Ensemble Studio graduate mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal, who can also be heard in this winter's The Magic Flute, is Nancy T'sang, First Secretary to Mao.  Ensemble Studio member mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb is Second Secretary to Mao and mezzo-soprano Megan Latham, Marcellina in the COC's 2007 The Marriage of Figaro, is Third Secretary to Mao.

Making his Canadian debut is young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado.  An exciting newcomer on the international conductors' scene, Heras-Casado is admired for the versatility of his repertoire (from early music through to cutting-edge contemporary scores) and was unanimously voted winner of the 2007 Lucerne Festival Conductors' Competition by a jury headed by Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös.  James Robinson, who most recently provided a searing version of Turandot for the COC, directs this ground-breaking co-production by Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and Houston Grand Opera.  Collaborating with set designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schuette, choreographer Seán Curran, lighting designer Paul Palazzo, sound designer Brian Mohr and video designer Wendall K. Harrington, Robinson's interpretation of Nixon in China is a vision of opera never before seen on the COC mainstage.  News media footage and historic photos literally become the set as televisions continually loop news footage of the actual events, while those same events are simultaneously re-enacted on the stage.  Moyer last worked with the COC on The Flying Dutchman in 2010 and Norma in 2006.  Schuette, Curran, Palazzo, Mohr and Harrington make their COC debuts with this production.


Tickets for Nixon in China are available online at, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the

Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto).  Ticket prices for Nixon in China range from $62 to $281 plus applicable taxes. 

NEW THIS SEASON: Standing Room

Standing Room tickets for only $12, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the
Four Seasons Centre Box Office.  Limit of two tickets per person.  Subject to availability.

Young People

Special young people's tickets are priced from $31 to $95 plus applicable taxes.  These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.

Opera for a New Age

Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera for a New Age tickets as of Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at 10 a.m., online at or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto).  Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Financial Group.  Student group tickets are also $22 per student and may be purchased by calling 416-306-2356.

Rush Seats

Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. 


Nixon in China Production Co-Sponsors: CIBC and CIBC Mellon

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts:

Jaguar Land Rover Canada

Broadcast Partner: CBC Radio 2

Official Media Sponsors: CTV and The Globe and Mail

Digital Marketing Sponsor: Delvinia

The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals and provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities. The Ensemble Studio is supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation and other generous donors.



BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats

    Free to ticket holders, the COC offers 20-minute introductions to the opera and its themes in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 45 minutes prior to every performance.

COC Book Club Explores Nixon in China

Last spring eOpera readers were invited to take part in the COC's first online book club.  By combining two passions – opera and literature – the COC is enhancing the experience of the other.  This winter, the COC Book Club follows its most recent selection of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice by reading Margaret MacMillan’s Nixon in China.  Author Margaret MacMillan will join the book club as they explore her examination of Nixon’s fateful trip to China and compare it to the opera, on stage this February at the
Four Seasons Centre. Visit to join the club.

Opera 101: Nixon in China
The COC's popular FREE series designed for people new to opera, Opera 101 takes an enthusiastic look at the COC’s production of Adams' Nixon in China on Jan. 19, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W.; at Queen and Beaconsfield).  Opera 101 host Brent Bambury (CBC Radio) will moderate a lively discussion and question-and-answer period with Nixon in China cast member Robert Orth, who sings the role of Richard Nixon.  Audience members will have the opportunity to win prize packs with ballots drawn at the end of the evening. 

The Opera Exchange Series: Nixon in China: Giving Voice to Our Own History

In collaboration with the Munk Centre for International Studies and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, the COC continues its 2010/2011 Opera Exchange Series with Nixon in China: Giving Voice to Our Own History on Feb. 13, 2011, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.; at Queen and University).  The second instalment of this season’s three symposia, Nixon in China: Giving Voice to Our Own History will provide an in-depth and entertaining look at John Adams’ opera about Richard Nixon’s historic five-day trip to China in 1972.  Participants will hear from local and international academics who will lead explorations and analysis on the themes and music of Adams’ Nixon in China.  Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at or by contacting COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231.  Discounts are available for UofT students and faculty.

Nixon in China Interactive Features on

The COC hosts a podcast series sponsored by Decca: The Opera Label.  Hosted by the COC's Gianna Wichelow and Gianmarco Segato, the podcasts explore the opera and its background, and feature interviews with singers and members of the creative teams.  All podcasts are available for downloading or streaming at   

The Canadian Opera Company's award-winning website,, contains information on all productions and programs and allows visitors to enjoy a wide variety of interactive features available for downloading and streaming. 

About the Canadian Opera Company

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the five largest in North America.  The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America.  The COC celebrates its 61st anniversary during the 2010/2011 season.  Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention.  The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists.  The COC performs in its own opera house, the
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world.  Designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada.  For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, please visit its award-winning website, 

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