What the critics thought: Nixon in China brings political opera to life

With a final sell-out performance at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, Nixon in China has captivated Scottish audiences. Over 6,000 people have experienced this particular moment in history over five performances in Glasgow and Edinburgh, cleverly brought to the stage by director John Fulljames.

Showcasing John Adams’ score and Alice Goodman’s poetic libretto, this new co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre and Teatro Real Madrid follows Richard Nixon’s much-publicised visit to China in 1972. The three-act opera explores both the ceremonial public moments and the personal encounters and experiences of the key players, against the backdrop of Adams’ eclectic score.

With Keith Bruce at The Herald describing it as ‘one of the most rewarding and thought-provoking evenings available in any theatre this year’, and The Guardian hailing the ‘slick and inventive’ production, Nixon in China has received praise from both audiences and critics. Acclaimed conductor Joana Carneiro conducted The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and American baritone Eric Greene sang the role of Richard Nixon, with soprano Julia Sporsén as his wife, Mark Le Brocq as Chou En-lai and David Stout as Henry Kissinger.

Much praise has been given to their performances, with George Hall from The Stage describing Eric Greene as ‘boisterous yet strangely sympathetic’ to Julia Sporsén’s ‘infinitely touching’ Pat Nixon. William Parker from Opera Guide Scotland praised Eric Greene’s ‘imposing’ baritone, ‘delivered with a presidential smile.’ Also mentioned was Hye-Youn Lee’s performance as Madame Mao, as ‘both an intimidating presence and a comedic one, with unmatched vocal agility on stage.’

As well as critical acclaim, audiences have taken to social media to praise the production, with people coming from all corners of the UK to attend performances in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

@PopularMusicInl wrote: My 10-year-old and I braved the floods and storms of south Wales to travel up yesterday on broken and overcrowded trains just to see the performance tonight, and we would do it all again tomorrow. Such a fabulous production, wonderfully performed.

@Breen wrote: Another excellent show in Nixon in China performed by @ScottishOpera. A tour de force in a hugely demanding piece for the audience, let alone the cast! Bravo.

@clarebest1 wrote: Breathtaking, exhilarating production of ‘Nixon in China’ @ScottishOpera tonight - worth every mile of the long journey up from Suffolk to Edinburgh. What a total treat!

@catherinejtayl2 wrote: It was epic. Loved the design, the ballet and the chorus singing. All the principals were amazing too but a particular mention to the 2 First Ladies - awesome singing!

@JcsmMurty wrote: What an absolute triumph @ScottishOpera's Nixon in China was last night. Brilliant production and everyone was on top form, from the soloists to the chorus, dancers, actors and orchestra.....massive bravo to all! #SOnixon

See what the audience thought on opening night,  or view the image gallery

★★★★★ – The Scotsman
★★★★★ – The Observer
★★★★★ – The Herald
★★★★★ – Edinburgh Music Review
★★★★★ – Corr Blimey
★★★★★ – Opera Guide Scotland
★★★★ – Bachtrack
★★★★ – Scene Alba
★★★★ – Scotsgay
★★★★ – The Guardian 
★★★★ – The Skinny
★★★★ – The Stage
★★★★ – The Telegraph
★★★★ – The Times
★★★★ – What's in Kelvin's Head