John Adams / Alice Goodman, Orchestra Of St. Luke’s, Edo de Waart – Nixon in China

John Adams

Hey … wanna fuck with some opera?

Opera? Ya, opera. That fat lady shit.

To those that go to the opera each weekend, good for fucking you. I’m sure your silver goblets are full of elf blood and your asses are stuffed with pixie feathers, rhino horn dust, and that coffee made from fastidious bug shit. At one time, I assumed that the opera, as well as large masked orgies, were an integral part of upper echelon culture. But shit isn’t actually like that. No. Sorry to disappoint: I don’t know what the mysterious world of the ridiculously rich looks like. It’s just that opera tickets aren’t that expensive. And masked orgies, in reality, seem really fucking gross and super dangerous. I prefer to stick to the much safer skydiving during a monkey knife fight, thank you very much. Common motherfuckers have paid 250 bones for bad sound and shit nosebleeds seats for AC/DC back in ’15. I’ve been to the opera for 20 bucks. So, what’s the real deal? Cause it’s not the fucking ticket price. The world of opera seems unattainable to most, no matter the cost. “It’s cause it’s done in some other language,” I’m reminded, “why would I go and listen to people sing in Latin for an hour?” First off, lots of operas are done in English. I think everyone already knew that or didn’t care enough to check. So, let’s cut with the shit, alright? No more fucking excuses. The reason why most people don’t go to the opera is cause it’s intimidating, it looks boring as all hell, and the TV is right fucking there. 

Step in John Adams with Nixon in China. See that title? That’s right. This opera isn’t about some medieval shit with dwarfs, love potions, and dragons. This isn’t some slow-drawn-out version of Games of Thrones where the nudity is replaced with a fuckton of singing. This opera is about Richard Nixon visiting China in 1972. First time I saw this, I couldn’t wrap my mind around any of it. When the Chinese premier, Chou En-lai, starts singing, “Your flight was smooth I hope.” And Nixon responds with, “Yes, smooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oooth!” in the most powerful, operatic, and deeply baritone voice I’ve ever heard, I wanted to laugh my fucking guts out. As I desperately tried to hold back, squelch, and subdue the laughter inside my mouth, the entire crowd around me laughed with glee. Yes … you can laugh at the opera. 

Look, if you’re not into historical political dramas or minimalist classical music, don’t listen/watch this shit. But, if you’re into either one, jump into this shit like a disease-ridden recently divorced former pornstar into a masked orgy. This particular recording was done two months after the 1987 Houston premier. It uses the same cast as the opera but a different chorus, conductor, and orchestra. It won a Grammy in 1988 for “Best Contemporary Composition” which is the you’re-classical-ish-and-really-good-but-we-don’t-know-what-the-fuck-to-call-you award. This is a great album to be sure (you can even watch this opera [totally different set up {warning: there is a hella white dude playing a Chinese person on this shit}] on YouTube). But, if you really want to step up your game, check out your local opera and see what the fuck is up. Don’t choose some shit you won’t understand. Pick an opera like you would a channel, then go. I guarantee you, good or bad, it will give you a better fucking story than watching reruns at home. 



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