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Nixon in China Returns to the Houston Grand Opera

A scene from a previous production of Nixon in China.
A scene from a previous production of Nixon in China.
Photo by Michael Cooper

Scott Hendricks was driving down Green Mountain Road in San Antonio when he got a call from Houston Grand Opera's Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers asking him if he'd like to sing the Richard Nixon role in Nixon in China.

Hendricks replied quickly in the affirmative. He'd never sung it before but he knew it was a very highly thought of piece of modern opera. “The music is great and the libretto is fantastic. It’s hard to believe it was John Adams’s first opera. I think it’s just a work of genius.”

And so, Hendricks will be center stage in Houston once again shortly with Andriana Chuchman as his wife Pat in honor of the 30th anniversary of composer Adams’s story of the president’s historic visit to China in 1972.

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“I’m just trying to find the physicality of it,” said Hendricks when interviewed in early rehearsals, adding that he watched Frost/Nixon (the movie made from the play) as research.

As far as learning the music goes, Hendricks says, "As far as the harmonic structure goes, it's not too tricky." A great piece weds the text and the music perfectly and this piece does that.

Performances are scheduled for January 20-28 at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Wortham Center, 500 Texas. Sung in English with projected text. Running time just under three hours with one intermission. For information call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15-$354.

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