Wednesday’s Prom was a concert performance of John Adams’ opera Nixon in China. I’d seen an ENO performance a few years ago at the Coliseum, and as I enjoyed it I thought I’d give this one a go, hopefully getting a bit closer to the action this time. As it was, I was in the second row.
Adams himself was conducting, and he was very popular with the audience. There have to be changes between a fully-staged performance and a concert one, and these were done cleverly – for example, replacing the landing of Air Force One on stage by passing a model aeroplane along the chorus; and during Act 2 one of the front-row Prommers got to shake hands with Mrs Nixon during her walkabout! I would still say that Act 1 is the best – it’s clearest in terms of what’s going on. But I did find that I now understand Act 2 rather better, so that was useful. Towards the front we did get the full-on Madame Mao experience, as Kathleen Kim certainly gave the performance her all. Act 3 is still rather confusing, but I think purposely so. It was certainly a highlight of the season and a good last concert to see in person.