16 May 2013

Nixon in China quickie

I'll get a proper review of Victorian Opera's Nixon in China up on the weekend (I'll try tomorrow, but it's very unlikely.)

But, if you're waiting to hear what the critics say: I say, hell yes!

Don't listen to the idiots who left after act one.

It's beautiful and I really loved it.

I admit that I was nervous. This is an opera that's as famous for its huge, elaborate and historically accurate set, as much as its music and the events it's based on; I couldn't imagine what a Nixon could be when it's created by a company who have about as much money to spend on the entire production as the Met spent on shoes and elephants for their 2011 production.

So Vic Opera went with a relatively simple set and focussed on costume. Act one takes place in front of a red curtain. By taking away the design that immediately places it and the audience in a specific time and place, it's a production based on the music and lyrics, which are now almost free from their historical constraints. (The opera is based on Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972. It's so hard to even imagine that 40 years ago one fifth of the world's population were still a mystery to us; I can only compare it to meeting aliens today.)

What I really loved was seeing the principals develop their characters from the music, rather than from historical figures who are still in recent memory. And vocally, these are some of the best voices I've heard on Melbourne stages – and it's in Her Majesty's, so not sucked into oblivion by the horror  sound of the State.

If you don't know the work, have a read about it at victorianopera.com.au.

But remember that there are only three more performances: Saturday, Tuesday and next Thursday.

And remember that I loved the opera with the dancing sea weed.

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