THE TALE OF GENJI in Tokyo (from OTSL's URL www.opera-stl.org)
|Opera Theatre to Present The Tale of Genji in Japan
Japanese premiere of Minoru Miki opera at Nissay theater, Tokyo September 16, 18, 20
Premiered by Opera Theatre in its 25th season in 2000, Minoru Miki's spectacular The Tale of Genji will open at the Nissay Theater, Tokyo on September 16, 2001 and continue for two more performances on September 18 and 20. The Opera will be staged by OTSL artistic director Colin Graham, who collaborated with Mr. Miki as librettist.
Genji was written to celebrate the millennium of the world's first novel and Japan's foremost literary classic, Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji, written in 1000 a.d. As it was for its U.S. premiere, it will be conducted by Steuart Bedford; sets and costumes are designed by famed Japanese designer Setsu Asakura assisted by Jun Matsuno, with choreography by the distinguished Japanese choreographer Kikushiro Onoe.
Genji was well received at its June 2000 premiere; Opera News called the production "a triumph"; the Wall Street Journal called Miki's score an "atmospheric masterpiece." The Post-Distpatch hailed the opera's "gorgeous production, superb cast, noble staging, and interesting, often beautiful music."
The role of Genji will be sung by baritone Carleton Chambers; Elizabeth Comeaux, Cheryl Evans, Josefa Gayer, Richard Clement, Andrew Wentzel, Jessica Miller, Graham Fandrei, and Eric Jordan are also featured.
The opera will be sung in English (the Japanese chorus -- the Tokyo Opera Singers -- will sing in English as well) with Japanese supertitles. The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra will take the place of the Saint Louis Symphony in the pit. Once again well-known instrumentalists Yang Jing (pipa and quin) and Reiko Kimura (koto) will appear as soloists with the orchestra. Original lighting design is by Christopher Akerlind; wigs and makeup are designed by Tom Watson. The assistnat conductor is William Lumpkin and the coach-accompanist is Curt Pajer.
Rehearsals begin in Saint Louis on August 21; the company travels to Japan on September 6. Performances in Tokyo will be held at the Nissay Theatre on September 16, 18, and 20.
This will be the second time that Opera Theatre has toured to Japan. OTSL commissioned Minoru Miki's Joruri for the 10th season in 1985 and presented it in Japan (in English, with Japanese titles) in 1988. The Tokyo premiere was the first performance of a Japanese opera by a U.S. company, and the first appearance by any American regional company in Japan.
Colin Graham's libretto to the The Tale of Genji is based on the first three books of Lady Murasaki's six volume novel, which was loosely based on disguised personalities in the Imperial court; it tells of the loves and adventures of Prince Genji, "the Shining One," favorite son of the Emperor.
This will be the fourth collaboration between Mr. Miki and Mr. Graham. An Actor's revenge, a Kabuki drama, was commissioned by Graham for the English Music Theatre in London and subsequently performed in Saint Louis. Graham translated The Monkey poet into English and wrote the libretto for Joruri, which was set in the 18th century Japanese puppet theatre.
About Minoru Miki
The Tale of Genji is Miki's eighth opera, is third to be seen in the U.S. His first major opera, Shunkin-sho (1975), won the Giraud Opera Prize. His second, An Actor's Revenge, was commissioned by Colin Graham for the English Music Theatre and has its world premiere in London in 1979; its American premiere was presented by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 1981. Joruri, Miki's third opera (whose libretto is by Colin Graham), was commissioned by Opera Theatre for the company's tenth anniversary in 1985, and subsequently presented by the company in Tokyo. He completed following major operas based on Japanese long history include Wakahime, Shizuka and Yoshitsune, twin opera The River Sumida / Kusabira. He also composed folk operas like The Monkey Poet, Yomigaeru, Terute & Oguri for his touring opera company Uta-za which founded in 1986 in Tokyo.
Minoru Miki is well know for his efforts to internationalize traditional Japanese instruments and encourage collaborations between Western, Asian, and Japanese instrumentalists. This has led to a wide range of chamber and symphonic compositions for Japanese solo instruments, and is perhaps best symbolized by the fact that although they are written to be sung in either Japanese or English, both Joruri and The Tale of Genji were first performed in English by American singers.
About the Nissay Theatre
The Nissay Theatre has been dedicated since its founding by the Nippon Life Insurance Co. to promoting the exchange of performances with other countries. The very first productions ever staged in the theater was Fidelio, conducted by Karl Bohm with Christa Ludwig and Dietrich Fischer--Dieskau; it is a regular stop for tours by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Recent productions have included Giorgio Strehler's production of Cosi fan tutte presented by the Nuovo Piccolo di Milano.
Funding or the Japanese premiere is provided in part by the AT&T Foundations, the Japan-US Friendship Commission, and the Japan Arts Corporation.