Panda-diplomatiet startede med Nixon in China

Nixon in China er en aktuel opera om menneskene bag storpolitiske begivenheder og er der, hvor det såkaldte Panda-diplomati tog sin begyndelse

I 1972 tog Nixon på et statsbesøg, der stadig giver ekko i nutidens storpolitik. Det besøg danner bagrund for en af de mest indflydelsesrige operaer i nyere tid, Nixon in China.

Magthaverne leger politik gennem medierne, og tilliden til store, statsbærende institutioner svinder. Sådan var det også i 1972, da Richard Nixon tog på et uventet statsbesøg i Kina – et besøg, der skabte grundlaget for en begyndende forbrødring mellem to indædte fjender.

Det er udgangspunktet for John Adams’ opera, der iscenesættes af Det Kongelige Teaters nye operachef John Fulljames. John Adams kommer dybt ind under huden på de mennesker, som vi kun kender fra en overfladisk medievirkelighed, og skaber en ny forståelse af dem, og af hvordan historien skabes. Operaen der har spillet for udsolgte huse i hele verden og høstet fremragende anmeldelser, spiller nu for første gang i Danmark.

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John Fulljames fortæller om opsætningen:

The opera tells us that after Richard Nixon had met Chairman Mao in China in 1972 there was a huge sense of anti-climax.  Here was an event of seismic proportions – a re-shaping of the world’s political tectonic plates and the birthing of a new era of global politics for a media age. Nixon’s visit was second only to the moon-landing as the biggest ever TV/media event. And yet after the meeting all the players had a sense that they had failed; failed to secure a legacy for themselves and failed to make real lasting change in the world. It is strange to enter into the heads of the most powerful people in the world and realise how powerless they feel – but that is exactly what opera and music makes possible.

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Nixon, perhaps the most critiqued American president ever, at least until the current incumbent, emerges as a tragic hero, whose legacy goes on to be destroyed by Watergate.  He ends the opera washed up, remembering running a Burger kiosk during World War II, dreaming of simply serving drinks to his servicemen customers.

We cannot help but empathise with him as he faces a dark future and eventual death. In an age of increasing distrust between people and politicians, when politicians can seem more remote than ever from real concerns, and when different political positions seem increasingly polarized, opera and theatre have a key role to play in building empathy. Nixon in China does that brilliantly.

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Nixon in China spiller fra 12. maj – 6. juni 2019.

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