Opera Australia celebrates John Adams at 70
Adams, Dessner, Greenwood: these are living composers with something to say, especially when given an orchestra and a few superhuman voices to say it with. This is an extraordinary era for music.
Opera Australia performs in Vivid LIVE for the first time this year with a remarkable program of contemporary works. It culminates in the Sydney premiere of The Nixon Tapes scenes from John Adams’ operatic debut Nixon in China, refashioned for the concert hall by the composer himself.
The acclaimed Opera Australia Orchestra begins the evening with orchestral works by contemporary music giants Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) and Bryce Dessner (The National).
Both musicians play in bands renowned for their invention and musicality. These qualities brilliantly manifest in Greenwood’s cinematic Popcorn Superhet Receiver. He adapted the work to score There Will be Blood, the 2007 Oscar-winning film. Dessner’s unsettling St Carolyn by the Sea is a perfect partner.
This concert joins a series around the world celebrating Adams at 70. His debut opera Nixon in China was startling in its simplicity: an elegant, melodic representation of a moment that changed history.
At its premiere, the opera was called “an operatic triumph of grave and thought-provoking beauty” (Chicago Sun-Tribune). Three decades have not diminished its class or significance. It remains a compelling work.
In The Nixon Tapes, five Opera Australia singers, the Opera Australia Orchestra and Chorus will perform highlights of the score, including the iconic landing of the presidential plane and Madame Mao’s terrifying ‘I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung’.
JONNY GREENWOOD POPCORN SUPERHET RECEIVER (18 mins)
BRYCE DESSNER ST CAROLYN BY THE SEA (15 mins) Australian Premiere
JOHN ADAMS (60 min) THE NIXON TAPES (version 1), SCENES FROM NIXON IN CHINA
ANDREW MOGRELIA Conductor
OPERA AUSTRALIA ORCHESTRA
OPERA AUSTRALIA CHORUS
ZANE BANKS Guitar
JY-PERRRY BANKS Guitar
EVA KONG Coloratura soprano, Chiang Ch'ing (Madame Mao Tse-tung)
CHRISTOPHER TONKIN Baritone, Chou En-Lai
LUKE GABBEDY Baritone, Richard Nixon
DAVID PARKIN Bass-baritone, Henry Kissinger
JANE EDE Lyric soprano, Pat Nixon
Presented by Sydney Opera House and Opera Australia.