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Nixon in China

Nixon in China

Auckland Arts Festival in association with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and New Zealand Opera

Conductor - Joseph Mechavich

Hye Jung Lee – Madame Mao

Madeleine Pierard – Patricia Nixon

Simon O’Neill – Mao Zedong

Barry Ryan – Richard Nixon

Chen Ye Yuan – Zhou En Lai

17 March and 19 March 2016

Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall

An extraordinary international event, John Adams’ Nixon in China makes its New Zealand debut at Auckland Arts Festival 2016 .

One of the most celebrated operas of our generation, Nixon in China is an ambitious work on a grand scale, an iconic piece of operatic writing. Combining pulsating energy and soaring lyricism, with influences from big band to Wagner, it relates a compelling story of the historic meeting of two of the 20th century’s most titanic and controversial figures – Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong.

Set in February 1972, Nixon in China opens on the runway of a chilly Peking ( Beijing) airfield and the arrival of President and Mrs Nixon in Air Force One. It was the first time a U.S. president had visited the People’s Republic of China, and by visit’s end decades of enmity between the two countries had been shelved and the world was realigned in the process.

At its Metropolitan Opera debut in 1987, Nixon in China was dubbed ‘provocative, edgy, and audacious’. Nearly 30 years later, it’s become a modern masterpiece, admired for Alice Goodman’s poetically eloquent libretto and Adams’ magnificent score. In China however, despite its intelligent and human portrayal of Mao, his wife Chiang Ch’ing and Zhou En Lai, it has never been performed.

Auckland Arts Festival 2016’s Nixon in China season brings together a stunning cast and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of conductor Joseph Mechavich (USA),as well as an all-star creative team led by Sara Brodie (Don Giovanni). Tenor Simon O’Neill plays Mao Zedong, baritone Barry Ryan is Nixon, baritone Chen Ye Yuan is Zhou En Lai, soprano Madeleine Pierard is Patricia Nixon, and soprano Hye Jung Lee is Madame Mao. With a set designed by John Verryt, and video created by the visionary Louise Potiki-Bryant, this semi-staged production has all the might worthy of the history-making visit.

Auckland Arts Festival artistic director, Carla van Zon, says she is delighted AAF is collaborating with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and New Zealand Opera on this major event.

Nixon in China is widely recognised as one of the 20th century’s greatest works for the opera stage,” says Ms van Zon.

“It’s clever, witty, and combines a lyrical beauty and fantastic sense of theatre,” she says.

Even though the events it depicts happened nearly forty years ago, she says it’s a work that remains remarkably relevant.

“At a time when countries and states still define themselves by their ‘opposition’ to others, Nixon in China’s themes of political and personal integrity, ideology and cult of personality have never been more current,” she says.

“The most influential opera of the past 20 years” - The Guardian

"A huge sensation..too good, too beautiful, too necessary" - New York Times

“Not since 'Porgy and Bess' has an American opera won such universal acclaim as Nixon in China.” - The New Yorker


ShowNixon in China
WhereGreat Hall, Auckland Town Hall
When17 March and 19 March 2016, 7.30 pm
Duration2 hours, 55 minutes including one interval
PricePremium $135.00

Premium Concession/Friends/Group/Senior/Students $124

A Res $105

A Res Concession/Friends/Group/Senior/Students $95

B Res $85.00

B Res Concession/ Friends/Group/Senior/Students $77.00

C Res $68.00

C Res Concession/Friends/Group/Senior/Student $61.00

D Res $51.00

D Res Concession/Friends/Group/Senior/Student $45.00

BookingsBook at Ticketmaster outlets: P: 09 970 9700 or 0800 111 999
Social MediaTwitter: @Aklfestival


Media enquiriesMeredith McGrath, PR & Media Manager

P: +64 (0)9 3740317 M:+64 (0)27 4473247 E:


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