Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 visit to China – the first time that a US President had visited the People’s Republic – is considered one of the major successes of his presidential career. In fact, opening up relations with China was an achievement powerful enough to, almost, stand against the Watergate scandal in popular memory of the 37th president of the USA.

And it is to this historic event, rather than the scandals, that composer John Adams turned for his first...

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