Twenty-five years ago today, Houston Grand Opera mounted the world premiere of Nixon in China, the first opera by a young composer named John Adams. Two days later, The New York Times described it as a "coy and insubstantial work" and "hardly a strong candidate for the standard repertory."
John Adams' rhythmically rich re-creation of a presidential trip to Beijing has established itself as a great American opera, a work of “clarity, simplicity, shocking elegance” that “will be around for the long haul” (The New York Times). A quarter-century after premiering at Houston Grand Opera under the leadership of David Gockley, this modern masterpiece made its San Francisco Opera premiere earlier this year featuring baritone Brian Mulligan. Lawrence Renes, whose conducting of Adams’ Doctor Atomic won praise from London critics, leads the orchestra.