I was amazed that The Princeton Festival brought Nixon in China to town. There haven’t been many productions of this opera, so I applaud Artistic Director, Richard Tang Yuk for making this wise decision.
Steven LaCosse’s regulates the fluidity of the stage nicely. There is a lot of action and a large chorus to navigate, and he manages it all very well.
The live orchestra is always conducted by Tang Yuk, who is truly gifted, and I love the acoustics at McCarter Theatre. The energy and richness of the sound field is very satisfying. The combination of the talented orchestra, Richard Tang Yuk’s skill, and the theater, offers an amazing amuse-bouche for the soul.
Overseen by James Schuette, the costumes, were vibrant and really helped in telling the story. From Pat Nixon’s American 70s womenswear to Mao’s Communist military, they allow some of the audience to re-live the period. This is truly a unique opportunity to experience a more modern opera in town.
Jonathan Dahm Robertson’s production design was simple, yet with the use of screens and projectors, he was able to add large scale images and also add more dimension to the various scenes. This transformed the confining space of the area into one with more depth and also added more textures to the stage. The falling snow was magical.
While costumes, staging, and the music are important elements of an opera, we all know the voices are the stars. The Princeton Festival’s production of Nixon in China will not disappoint. The standouts for me are Sean Anderson (Richard Nixon), Rainelle Krause (Pat Nixon), Cameron Schutza (Chairman Mao), and Teresa Castillo (Madame Mao). The fullness, clarity, and richness of their voices are delightful and are definitely worth your time. (Hint – buy a ticket)
Bonuses that I really enjoyed were the adorable children used in a couple of scenes (supernumeraries), the ballet that gave us a trifecta of performing arts (though Pat Nixon and Madame Mao had different interpretations of it) and it’s sung in English (for those who don’t appreciate singing in a foreign language). I highly recommend The Princeton Festival’s Nixon in China. If you’re a first timer, it will give you a chance to “try on” an opera in your own backyard. The ticket price is affordable, parking is free in the West Garage off Alexander Street – adjacent to the Dinky Station/Wawa or off Faculty Road, it’s sung in English with supertitles (English captions above the stage), and every seat at McCarter is a good seat. For people who have not attended a Princeton Festival opera, this is of equal quality to one you would see in a city. As you can see in the images, the costumes are stunning. You will have to buy a ticket to experience the rest. In other words, there’s no excuse for not seeing this, unless it’s already sold out.
Tickets for the Nixon in China perfomance on Sunday, June 30 may be purchased online through the McCarter Theatre website, as well as by phone at 609-258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Theatre Ticket Box Office at 91 University Place in Princeton, NJ. You may choose to have your tickets mailed to you or to pick them up at Will Call. Run time is approx. 225 minutes with one intermission.