• Nixon in China Classroom Activity

 The activities in this guide address several aspects of Nixon in China:

  •  The American history behind the opera
  • Why and how artists adapt stories from recent history into operatic form
  • The differences between Eastern and Western culture and world views as exemplified by the characters in Nixon in China
  • The evolving role of “political spouses”
  • The role of mass media in world events
  • Minimalism, the musical style of Nixon in China

The guide is intended to spark students’ interest in Nixon in China, whether or not your students have any prior acquaintance with opera. It can help you prompt them to think about opera—and the performing arts in general—as a medium of entertainment and of creative expression.

Ripped from the Headlines:
From Newsreel to Opera

In this activity, your students will learn not only about the history surrounding Nixon’s trip to China but about the nature of opera. In addition, they will get the opportunity to flex their own creative muscles by selecting an event from recent history and crafting around it the framework of an opera (bringing it as near to fruition as they choose). They will:

  • Investigate and discuss President Nixon’s trip to China and its larger significance
  • Explore and define what makes a story “operatic”
  • Create their own opera scenarios based on recent history