Scene Last Night: Nixons Meet Operatic Kin at ‘Nixon’ Opening

'Nixon in China' Met Debut
Tricia Nixon Cox, center, backstage with the singers who play her parents in the opera, baritone James Maddalena and soprano Janis Kelly. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Real Nixons met their operatic kin backstage at the Metropolitan Opera last night during the premiere of “Nixon in China.”

The president’s daughter Tricia and her son, Christopher, visited the stage Nixons during the first intermission of John Adams’s epic comedy drama, which was inspired by Richard M. Nixon’s history-changing trip to China one snowy winter in 1972.

“It’s overwhelming to think that 30 or 40 years ago the doors to China weren’t open,” said Christopher Nixon Cox, 31, adding that he goes to Beijing a couple of times a year to raise money from sovereign funds on behalf of his company OC Global Partners LLC.

“To see a country growing up is an exciting thing,” he said.

Tricia Nixon Cox said her parents called her from China on her birthday and brought back two cloisonne vases she still has.

Her husband, Edward Cox, the New York State Republican chairman, said of the birthday call: “We were in Boston at Locke-Ober. The restaurant was surprised when they got a call from the president.”

Edward Cox said Nixon’s yen to visit China dated from his days as a traveling businessman, years before becoming president.

Tricia Cox posed for a photo with her stage parents, James Maddalena and Janis Kelly.

“Let’s lock arms,” she said. “We used to do this in our family.”

The opera, first heard in Houston in 1987, is generally polite to the dead president, though there is some reference to extreme sweating in the last act, which went on so long that one wished to rest in one of the several beds arrayed on the stage for the singers who spend their time dreaming or dying.

The audience, which dwindled over the hours, clapped and cheered when the curtain dropped not long before midnight.

Chanel Party

Also last night: Jill Kargman celebrated her new book of essays, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut,” with a party at the Chanel boutique on 57th Street. Being the daughter of the vice chairman of Chanel Inc., Arie L. Kopelman, she got to wear Chanel: a black-leather dress with laser-cut camellias from the Paris-Shanghai collection, which her husband, Harry Kargman, described as “Coco meets Trent Reznor.”

“It’s going back tomorrow,” said Jill. “No one wants to see a 36-year-old in a tight dress.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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