Composer Matsumura Teizo worked on the libretto and music for this exquisite opera over a period of 13 years. It is based on the great novel Silence by Endo Shusaku. For any Japanese opera house, the staging of works by Japanese composers is an absolute necessity. The first such work to be performed during Artistic Director Otaka Tadaaki's tenure was Yuzuru. One of Japan's finest operas, Yuzuru has been performed over 700 times in Japan and overseas. In its second year under Otaka, the NNTT Opera will present Silence. Otaka had long expressed an interest in this challenging work, and recognized the possibilities that could be achieved with a new production. The opera premiered at the NNTT in 2000. The new production is the work of Artistic Director (Play) Miyata Keiko. She has spoken passionately about the project, saying, "I feel a deep attachment to the work and enjoyed reading the novel, which deals with tricks of the human mind and a sense of conflict and confrontation with God. As one reads a script, I hope to 'read the sounds.'" This will be Miyata Keiko's first turn at producing an opera. The language of the composer will be conveyed through the baton of acclaimed conductor Shimono Tatsuya, making his debut at the NNTT.
In the early 17th century, when the oppression of Christians reached its height in Japan, the young missionary Rodrigo secretly came to Nagasaki. Poor believers in the village are arrested before his eyes and die after gruesome torture, but he cannot help them nor does God lend a helping hand. Soon he himself is arrested, and his mentor urges him to abandon his belief in Christianity to rescue the believers. Rodrigo frantically prays to God, who remains silent. In despair, he stands before a fumie, a plate with a crucifix to be trodden on to prove oneself a non-Christian.