John Adams

Nixon in China

Libretto by Alice Goodman

A new co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre
& Teatro Real Madrid

A first for Scottish Opera. John Fulljames – Director of Opera at The Royal Danish Theatre – directs Adams’ iconic work, with designs by the ever-inventive Dick Bird (The Mikado 2016).

Inspired by Nixon’s much-publicised visit to China in 1972, this groundbreaking piece explores the reality behind the hype. It is as much about the private  moments as the public, about the wives as much as the husbands, and about what we choose to remember as much as what actually happened…

‘The most influential opera of the last few decades, it has lost none of its power and remains Adams’ finest stage work.’ The Guardian

Famed for giving minimalism a human face, Adams mixes a huge range of sounds in his eclectic score. Pre-recorded electronics sit alongside live passages echoing Wagner and Johann Strauss; jazz references alongside big band sounds that evoke the 1930s of Nixon’s youth. Acclaimed Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro leads an exciting cast including American baritone Eric Greene, Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018), British tenor Mark Le Brocq (Anthropocene 2019) and South Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee (La bohème 2017).

Running time approx. 3 hrs 15 mins including two 20 min intervals

Sung in English with English supertitles


Listen to a taster of the music from Nixon in China on Spotify.

Cast & Creative Team

Richard Nixon
Eric Greene

Mao Tse-tung
Mark Le Brocq

Chou En-lai
Nicholas Lester

Pat Nixon
Julia Sporsén

Henry Kissinger
David Stout

Chiang Ch’ing (Madame Mao)
Hye-Youn Lee

First Secretary to Mao
Louise Callinan

Second Secretary to Mao
Sioned Gwen Davies

Third Secretary to Mao
Emma Carrington

Joana Carneiro

John Fulljames

Set & Costume Designer
Dick Bird

Lighting Designer
Ellen Ruge

Projection Designer
Will Duke

Sound Designer
Cameron Crosby

Original Choreographer
John Ross

Revival Choreographer
Nathan Johnston

What the press said

 'One of the most rewarding and thought-provoking evenings that will be available in any theatre this year...' ★★★★★ Herald Scotland 

'Unstintingly powerful and imaginative.'  ★★★★★ The Scotsman 

'A gripping and absorbing show.' ★★★★★ The Observer

'One of the most subtle, intelligent and entertaining operas of the last 40 years...' ★★★★ The Telegraph 

'John Fulljames’ new production gives a modern classic a new lease of life.'  ★★★★ The Stage

'A stunning, constantly surprising spectacle.' ★★★★ The Skinny

'Cunningly timed and cleverly staged.' ★★★★ The Times

'John Fulljames’ slick and inventive production.' ★★★★ The Guardian



If you are visually impaired, you can enjoy the full opera experience with live commentary that describes the action on stage without compromising the music. Free touch tours including the set, props and costumes are also available before the show.

Touch Tours

Sat 22 Feb, 6pm

Sat 29 Feb, 6pm

Audio Described

Sat 22 Feb, 7.15pm

Sat 29 Feb, 7.15pm

Contact the box office at your local venue to book – tickets should be booked at least two weeks in advance. Discounts available. Touch tours only available to audio-description bookers. Guide dogs welcome. Find out more.

Get Closer

Widen your opera experience with a pre-show talk, or try an hour long taster that gives you an insight into our operas and how they are created.

Opera Unwrapped

Fri 21 Feb, 6pm

Fri 28 Feb, 6pm

Pre-show Talk

Sat 22 Feb, 6pm

Sat 29 Feb, 6pm

Tickets for Opera Unwrapped are just £5. Pre-show talks are free but should be reserved by calling the box office at your chosen venue. Find out more.