Of all the operas in our mainstage 2010/2011 season, Nixon in China is probably the least familiar to the average opera-goer. It's only been performed once before in Canada (by Vancouver Opera) and its relative newness means that its foothold in the standard repertoire is still being carved out.
I find—and I'm sure many of you find as well—that the more familiar I am with a new opera's music and background before seeing it on stage, the more enjoyable a time I have in the theatre. Having some basic familiarity with the work helps me pick up more nuances in the performances and direction. And to help you get the most out of your Nixon in China experience, I've put together a list of ways to prepare.
1. Listen to the 2008 Naxos recording of Nixon in China
The 2008 recording of Nixon in China by the Naxos label has garnered a lot of critical acclaim from such publications as Opera News, Gramophone, and BBC Music Magazine. And the recording can also give you a very specific kind of preview: most of the principal singers featured in the recording will be reprising their roles on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre. Sample the voices of Robert Orth, who plays Richard Nixon; Maria Kanyova, who plays Pat Nixon; Chen-Ye Yuan, who plays Chou En-Lai; and Thomas Hammons, who plays Henry Kissinger, to get a preview of the calibre of singing you'll be hearing.
If you're a Toronto Public Library member, you can listen to the entire recording through their access to the online Naxos Music Library. We also have it available for order at our opera shop.
2. Search for "Nixon in China" on YouTube
I've talked in a previous post about the wealth of information available on YouTube about John Adams, Nixon in China, and Nixon's historic visit. There's a lot out there, including interviews with John Adams, clips from other productions of the opera, and historic footage. Watch and listen.
Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink
Creating a new production like The Magic Flute involves building a lot of things from scratch. We've seen some of the sets and the props in construction, and now we'll take a look at some of the costumes. I dropped in on a costume fitting for John Kriter, a member of the COC chorus who will be donning some of the production's most spectacular and colourful costumes (designed by Myung Hee Cho).
In Act I, he'll be playing a giraffe. Here's the designer's sketch (you can see the full set of sketches here):
The most prominent feature of the costume is, of course, the tall giraffe headpiece, which was constructed by the props department and brought in for the fitting. Here's a picture of the (unfinished) giraffe head: it needed to be held up when not being fitted; otherwise it would have fallen over. The eyelashes are a particularly nice touch. (Click "Read More" to see the rest of the post)
Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (2) / permalink
[This is a guest post by our production co-ordinator, Shawna Green. Shawna assisted this month in auditioning dancers for our upcoming production of Nixon in China]
Selecting dancers for our productions is quite a process. First we send out a posting to Equity, agents, and dance companies (you can see the public posting here). Dancers and agents then send headshots and resumes in to me. In the posting, we inform them of the type of dance that will be required for this production. For Nixon in China, we needed dancers that had strong ballet technique and a modern dance background (having experience in martial arts was a bonus).
For Nixon in China we needed to cast four men and four women. We received over 300 resumes, but we could only audition 80 men and 80 women. It was then my job to go through all of the resumes and chose the candidates that fit our needs, so that we could invite them to audition for us.
Posted by Shawna Green / in 2010/2011 / comments (3) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001