The Marxist Priest of Nixon in China


“The incubation period of the opera (Nixon In China) was rife with serious second-thoughts, by no less than Adams (the composer) himself, who initially resisted the proposal made by Peter Sellars (the director), a progressively radical director whose idea the composer found too risky.” — An excerpt from “Opera Review: John Adams’ ‘Nixon in China’” by Sam Juliano.

Hmmm … the course of Marxist genius never runs smoothly.

If you don’t believe me, read the life of Bertolt Brecht.

However, Peter Sellars’ Marxism, as Wikipedia prefers to translate it, is to be a “progressively radical” artist of some sort.

With President Obama in the White House, it can now be known as “radically Progressive”: the Progressive Clinton as versus the radically Progressive Obama.

Radicalism, a la Van Jones, even as seen through the eyes of the Huffington Post, is the inevitability of the “Progressive” New World Order, whether you like it or not.

There is, however, one impressively dialectical twist in this drama: women such as Alice Goodman, the librettist.

Her Marxist heresy, because of the ministerial collar, is what is sometimes referred to by the KGB hardliners as the Western Sentimentality of “useful idiotsand the decadent schmaltz seems to have escaped even the intriguingly odd but hawk-eyed Peter Sellars.

Reverend Goodman is still a “Progressive” of the Progressively Baptist Bill Clinton sort. She is actually an ordained Anglican priest; and is now a chaplain at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The initial Wizard of Nixon In China happened to be the director, Peter Sellars.

The real Wizard, however, is Alice Goodman.

Peter Sellars’ instincts about Alice Goodman were Brechtian genius itself.

However, Alice Goodman’s love of God’s mysteries seemed to have escaped even the hawk-eyed and progressively radical Peter Sellars.

Either that or he simply endured the “mysteries” within Ms. Goodman’s poetry as allowably Buddhist.

Communism is ultimately no sin to Buddhism. The Dalai Lama actually admits to being a Marxist.

Besides, the John Adams’ musical portrait of Chou En-Lai contains the requisite, albeit poetic, sentimentality required to sell Chou En-Lai to America as the real hero of Nixon In China.

Score ten for the Progressive New World Order!

The music, in fact “minimalism” in general, just seems a lazy way to whip out hours of agitation for a profoundly complex encounter between two massively powerful cultures.

Laying that aside, what kept me glued to the You Tube video of the Houston Opera Company’s Production was Alice Goodman’s libretto.

Quite annoyingly, that libretto is not available on the internet. Scores of the entire opera cost $120 Canadian dollars … including delivery of course.

All I wished to see was the libretto but then how will John Adams get his share of the profits from a poetess he and Peter Sellars singlehandedly made?! Who taught them Marxist economics?

Michael Moore?

Sean Penn?

Is this Marxism? Or just good ole American, villainous Capitalism?

Rev. Goodman, however, and her firmly feminist point of view dominates Nixon In China. How else could she earn post-modern credentials with these Marxist men in her life?

She does indeed spare no amount of operatic melodrama in examining both the heroine and villainess of Nixon In China.

Ms. Goodman’s own romantic yearnings, God bless her, rise up not only in the huge question Chou En-Lai leaves us hanging on at the end, but also in the Cultural Revolution Ballet. This play-within-an-opera ballet and its hero and heroine, its Romeo and Juliet, caught amidst the Machiavellian nightmares within the Nixon In China opera itself?

Would she had Rachmaninoff’s lyricism and Stravinsky’s muscle to canonize the brilliant contrasts that sit and eagerly wait for a great composer. Then again, those two composers were decidedly not Marxists. Stravinsky was Russian Orthodox and exiled himself to, of all places, hamburger-eating, pre-Nixon America.

The ideological contrasts of Nixon In China alone make the encounter with Ms. Goodman herself fascinating.

Here she is!

Reverend Goodman, mind you!

A Marxist Christian?

She’s certainly a big fan of Chou En-Lai.

He’s the hero of Nixon In China.

You were right, Mr. Adams!

The idea of Nixon In China was a “risky” one … but possibly helpful enough to pave Elitism’s Way for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to both become Presidents of the United States.

Hmmm … now there’s the major question of not only this editorial, and this hour but this coming decade … and possibly this century … or human infinity.

Can there be such a thing as a Marxist Christian?

The Dalai Lama himself is a Marxist and Chosen One of Buddha!

Why not?

There was Liberation Catholicism running all around South America, wasn’t there?

God and Karl Marx.

The Almighty and The Grandest of Atheists!

Who can’t see them married?!

The alternate lifestyle of a Marxist … no, the Community Organizing Fundamental of a Progressive New World Order!

“Let’s wear down those ugly Americans such as Sarah Palin!!”

“If she becomes President America will have the West’s version of Mao’s Chiang Ching!!!”

“Maggie Thatcher in jack boots!!!!”

“Ronald Reagan in drag!!!!!”

“A virtual animal! Mamma Grizzly as POTUS!!!!!!”

“The solution is to surround these ‘stupid people’ with not only their cultural superiors like Bill Maher The Atheist but their religious superiors such as Alice Goodman as well.”

“They’ll never be able to understand the divine subtleties within the Marriage of God and Karl Marx!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Such an achievement is far beyond the vulgarities of Catholic idiocies such as Figaro or Mozart’s Don Giovanni!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Match-making God and Karl is the only possible hope for peace, you know.”

“If not, Judeo-Christians, you are toast!! Toast!!! Toast!!!!!”

This last bit of libretto within my comic opera is sung in falsetto, a la Alban Berg.

Having spent two whole days with Nixon In China, I sympathize sincerely with Chou En-Lai’s exhaustion in the final scene.

As for Henry Kissinger, the double for a villainous landowner in the Cultural Revolution Ballet?

Here he isas The 20th Century’s Greatest Courtier.

Why am I so sure that both Goodman and Adams are Marxists?

Anticipating the increasingly obvious and desperately inevitable marriage of Marx and Islam, they both, along with Sellars as well, prophetically mind you, gave voice to the Palestinian version of Israel’s “unacceptability” in their next opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer”.

From Wikipedia:

Following “Nixon,” the three collaborated on a second opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” about the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking by Palestinians in which an elderly American Jew was killed. It premiered in 1991 but was promptly assailed by charges that it was anti-Semitic and glorified Palestinian terrorists. Several planned productions were canceled and the work has rarely been performed since, although the Opera Theater of St. Louis is presenting it next June.

Adams, Goodman and Sellars repeatedly claimed that they were trying to give equal voice to both Israelis and Palestinians with respect to the political background.

But the period of composition was a momentous one for Goodman personally. Raised a Reform Jew in St. Paul, Minn., she had married English poet Geoffrey Hill, and while writing “Klinghoffer” she converted to Christianity. She was later ordained as an Anglican priest and is currently winding up a stint as chaplain at Trinity College, Cambridge.

This Christian Marxist felt obliged to give two sides of the story in this second opera and here’s a larger version of “The Death of Klinghoffer”.

Communist Islam rising!!!

Can you hear the orchestra in full fortissimo??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night I glimpsed the British version of Alice Goodman. It was Vanessa Redgrave sitting in the audience of the Tony Awards.

Both Goodman and Redgrave?

Oh, not both at The Tony Awards but brilliantly “useful talents” for the Communist Revolution.

The fact that God gave the two of them their talents seems a lie to Vanessa and a reason for Alice to make God a Marxist.

Now that’s not a bad idea for an opera: Marx’s conversion of God to Communism!

Obviously Alice Goodman is the only poet qualified to write the libretto since she obviously feels that is exactly what must have happened.

Alice Goodman, the Brechtian poet of Heaven.

Where’s Kurt Weill when you need him?

And who could possibly sing the role of God?

If it’s a movie?

The ghost of Frank Sinatra.

Italian Communism is, of course, as complex a thing as Alice Goodman might possibly want to confuse us with.

Unfortunately I doubt if Mr. Sinatra will want to even show up for rehearsal.


Karl Marx would be a tenor!

The tenor always steals the show from the baritone in an opera.

God is not Wozzeck.

The Almighty is never quite that stupid.


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