Met Opera costumes designer describes making ‘Nixon in China’ with composer Terence Blanchard

The second of this season’s “Fire” performances of John Adams’s “Nixon in China” will take place in a major ceremony Saturday night at the Metropolitan Opera House, the first after a successful run last month.

Here’s how Met Opera’s costume designer, Jodie Reed, described the experience for The New York Times in an article about the first performance:

In “Nixon in China,” another of John Adams’s larger-than-life works, the costumes are whimsical, from the flocked bubble socks and printed band-aids to the peekaboo pants and the opera-taffeta hats. “I wanted the clothes to be as much a part of the story as the actual dialogue and everything else,” she said. “It’s one thing to talk about a three-dimensional world and then say, ‘Look at my two-dimensional hat.’ It’s another thing to have layers and layers that interact.”

Reed also explained that the costuming is “not so much a prop” as a focus of the performance itself. “Some of the costumes are meant to be just dance clothes. I like them to be strong, but unpretentious,” she said.

On Saturday night, Terence Blanchard, the composer, will take the stage with his in-the-round orchestra for a performance along with soprano Jothi Santi and baritone Michael Gill.

All three artists are scheduled to make brief appearances throughout the evening’s performance, titled “Nixon in China. Overture.” The concert will also include depictions of earlier scenes of the work and, Blanchard said, will give audiences “a great look at what I do live.”

Blanchard’s presence will likely bring comparisons to the first performance of the work earlier this month. Watch Terence Blanchard’s electrifying “Nixon in China” performance right here.

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