[NOTE: This entry has been edited as of 6:23 AM Eastern on 14 Feb to add a closing graf and correct some overblown language.]
We listened on and off last night to the Met's streaming webcast of the Met premiere of John Adams's Nixon In China (on and off not by choice but because the audio stream kept going on and off, and off for considerable stretches at a time), and in terms of the music itself, mostly liked what we heard in this our first hearing of this work. Its minimalist-influenced score is often attractive, but in terms of opera — in terms of dramma per musica — the work is perfectly empty. The opera's subject is a nullity — a political event engaged in by politicians where both the event and the politicians have zero dramatic interest or potential except in the mind of a politics-besotted ideologue and purveyor of agitprop such as the opera's instigator and stage director, Peter Sellars. Why Adams permitted himself to be persuaded to squander his considerable gift creating music in the service of such a pedestrian subject and dramatic cipher is simply beyond our understanding. Oh!, to hear an Adams opera created in partnership with a librettist of literary gift equal to Adams's musical one on a subject of genuinely mythic and/or poetic proportions! Dr. Atomic could have been such an Adams opera had it not been crippled fatally by Sellars's resoundingly dumb, hockey-puck-leaden libretto. Perhaps Adams will choose his subject and librettist more wisely with his next effort.