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Great Music

Political Caricature Opera 政治諷刺畫式的歌劇

 

Nixon in China

Music by John Adams
Libretto by Alice Goodman

   

尼克松在中國

約翰·亞當斯曲

愛麗絲古德曼詞

Nixon in China is an opera in three acts by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman. Adams' first opera, it was inspired by the 1972 visit to China by US President Richard Nixon.
 
To create the sounds he sought, Adams augmented the orchestra with a large saxophone section, additional percussion, and electronic synthesizer. Although sometimes described as "minimalist", the score displays a variety of musical styles, embracing minimalism after the manner of Philip Glass alongside passages echoing 19th century composers such as Wagner and Johann Strauss.

 

Following the 1987 premiere, the opera received mixed reviews; some critics dismissed the work, predicting it would soon vanish. However, it has been presented on many occasions since, in Europe as well as in North America, and has been recorded twice. In 2011, the opera received its Metropolitan Opera debut, a production based on the original sets, and in the same year was given an abstract production in Toronto by the Canadian Opera Company. Recent critical opinion has tended to recognize the work as a significant and lasting contribution to American opera.

 

 

At Peking Airport 在北京機場

The scene changes to Chairman Mao's study, where the Chairman awaits the arrival of the presidential party. Nixon and Kissinger enter with Chou, and Mao and the president converse in banalities as photographers record the scene.

 

毛接見尼克松在書房

I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung !  我是毛夫人!

 

 

約翰· 亚当斯是極簡主義作曲家,他的第一部歌劇《尼克松在中国》,像一幅政治諷刺畫。
 

资料引述颇为丰富,大量段落直接来自当年的历史档案、主席诗词和尼克松回忆录。  

 

这部歌剧中人物性格的刻画十分鲜明,几位歌唱家的演技也很值得称赞。
  
核心人物性格简析如下:
  
尼克松:单纯,理想主义,有热情,还有点小聪明,易激动,易气馁
尼太:单纯,现实主义,不关心政治,爱家爱夫
毛:充满幻想的哲学家,才華橫溢的政治家。
周:坚忍低调的实干家,對革命有热诚信念。

毛夫人:狂熱,霸氣。
  
第一幕第一场,尼克松刚刚踏上中国这片神秘的土地时,在三大紀律,八項注意的歌聲中走下飛機。他唱了一首咏叹调,天真興奮像小孩子第一次逛迪斯尼一樣。随后的舞台场景转换如行云流水,迅速变成了宾馆小憩。

  
还没等尼克松躺好,就被尼太和基辛格拎起来了。沉重的腳步聲響起來了,重量级人物毛,在三个女秘书的搀扶下,步履蹒跚地出场。

  
毛的唱段,几乎总是在这三个女秘书的女低音重唱烘托下进行的,织体丰富迷人。

  

毛与尼的对话,毛谈哲学、历史;尼克松随声附和。毛的年紀老邁,在談話中幾次昏昏欲睡,醒來後咄咄逼人。
  
最后毛以重复两人对话中一句意味深长的话结束了会见:Founders Come First, Then Profiteers.
  
第三场国宴讲话,核心人物变成了周,他那段著名的“女士们先生们,同志们朋友们”(请自动添加口音),堪称第一幕的情感最高潮。接下来尼克松的演讲,则显得有些幽默、有些造作,尤其是忘词之际,一边重复自己的唱词,一边从怀里往外掏写有讲稿提示的小纸条,实在是极简主义的自然之笔。
  
第二幕第一场以尼太的视角为主,与第一幕第一场的尼克松视角相呼应。尼太的唱段,轻巧抒情,更加具美国风味。

  
而第二幕第二场,戏中戏芭蕾舞剧《红色娘子军》,则以尼太与毛太艺术观的冲突,呼应第一幕第二场中尼与毛的世界观的冲突。尼克松夫妇幼稚的举动(冲上台去救护吴清华),看似剧作者的幽默,其实反映出这对总统夫妇的无知。
  
真正的幽默,则来自党代表洪常青扶起昏倒的吴清华的瞬间,来自《莎乐美》的圣施洗约翰动机辉煌一现,立刻转入煽情无比的《女武神》之沃坦告别布伦希尔德动机。导演在这里亦有贡献:当洪常青朝身后的尼克松含义不明地伸出手臂之刻,尼太冷静地推开老公本能递过去的手枪,转而换上一杯橙汁。这一段真是让人百看不厌的经典!
  
吴清华倒地之际,亚当斯描写雨滴落下、越下越大的那段音乐,拜极简音乐写法便利所赐,实在是天衣无缝痕,妙趣无极限。
  

接下来的高潮,当然是毛夫人登台纠正演员的失误,并高唱著名咏叹调“我是毛夫人!”把尼太惊得个目瞪口呆。  

 

亚当斯的音乐,在最后一幕中愈发精彩起来,美国流行音乐、百老汇、爵士....多种音乐元素自由混搭,极简写作手法反而淡化了。