Nixon in China is the only opera in our mainstage season composed by someone still living, and this leads to a lot of other "onlys:" He's also the only composer in our mainstage season with a twitter account (@HellTweet) and a blog. He has a Facebook page too, but then again, so does Mozart (although it's not quite the same thing).
I highly recommend reading his latest blog post, about casting the original production of Nixon in China. Here's an excerpt:
"The most punishing writing of all, that for Chairman Mao, required of the tenor John Duykers that he virtually reprogram his voice. Instead of composing reasonably modulated lines that allow the vocal musculature to periodically relax and recoup its strength, I gave him lines that started on a high wire and just mercilessly remained up in the stratosphere. I must have been thinking at the time that if Mao were going to be heard by a billion Chinese he would have to sing very loud and very high—all the time. Duykers 'created' the role in every sense of the word, finding ways to exploit not only the 'heroic' quality of his voice but also using his imposing stage presence to evoke a larger than life presence perfectly suited to the Mao of those classic posters and statues. He was indeed the model of the philosopher-dictator, the wily strategist who stumped the Americans while dallying with his young secretaries."
Of Thomas Hammons, who created the role of Henry Kissinger and will be singing it in our production, he writes:
"The bass buffo role of Henry Kissinger was sung with humor and gusto by Thomas Hammons. He has continued to sing it in the intervening years in various other productions around the country. In the Peter Sellars production Kissinger morphs into cartoon-like gangster in the second act ballet and has to be as nimble as a ballet dancer. Tom did the morphing with zeal. Kissinger has perhaps the most humiliating final exit of any role in the operatic repertoire. He doesn’t die in a duel, nor does he ride off into the sunset on a white steed. He simply asks where the toilet is and says 'Excuse me for one moment, please.'"
Go read the whole post! It's fascinating stuff.
Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001