Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mao Played by a Tenor

On October 27, 1987, Mao Zedong was played by a tenor wearing a Mao suit in the premier of John Adams’ Nixon In China at the Houston Grand Opera. Mao had been dead for eleven years. Nixon was 74 and still living, but didn't attend, nor did Madame Mao, who was in a Chinese prison for her part in the Cultural Revolution. (The Cultural Revolution, by the way, was not a reenactment of the Italian Renaissance.) The Nixon part was sung by a baritone. My favorite number from the opera is The Chairman Dances. Mao Zedong appears five times in A Book of Ages. Fellow revolutionaries Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Ché Guevara, Malcom X, George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robespierre and Jesus of Nazareth also appear several times each.

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