Los Angeles Master Chorale

L.A. Phil delivers a dazzling reimagining of 'Nixon in China'

L.A. Phil delivers a dazzling reimagining of 'Nixon in China'

Very few works can claim to have launched a trend, but John Adams’ “Nixon in China” certainly can. A wag called it “CNN Headline Opera,” a somewhat pejorative tag that didn’t stick. But the concept — basing theater pieces on recent news events and personalities — did take hold, and a whole trail of operas, quasi-operas, monodramas, song cycles and such have followed since the “Nixon” debut at Houston Grand Opera 30 years ago.

“Nixon” took hold, too — much to the composer’s surprise, establishing itself in the general operatic repertoire. It has not been easy for some — myself included — who lived and sweated through the Richard Nixon years to fully come to terms with this opera’s...

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