Under the Invitational Programme for Performing Arts in the Region, the NNTT cosponsors the staging of quality productions from around Japan. For the 7th production since the inaugural production in 2005, the NNTT has invited the Sendai Opera Association. Nari-suna (composer: Okazaki Mitsuharu) was commissioned and performed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the association, which began in 1976. This will be an updated version. The opera tells the tale of a tragic love between a man and woman in a fishing village in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region. At the same time, it makes a statement about environmental conservation through its depiction of a singing-sand beach which has become polluted and gone silent, as a consequence of human ambition and egoism.
The Sendai Opera Association serves to make the region's arts scene a more robust one. Among their popular activities, they perform this opera in the fall each year, and stage the Spring Intermezzo series of performances consisting of original, short adaptations of operas and gala concerts. The Sendai Opera Association also participates in arts festivals in Sendai and performs in smaller cities throughout Miyagi prefecture. Under current Artistic Director Sato Junichi, the Sendai Opera Association recently staged its 35th production of Nari-suna in their hometown of Sendai, at Tokyo Electron Hall Miyagi on September 19 and 20, 2010. You can bet they will work hard to ensure their July 2011 production at the NNTT is their best yet. This will also mark the NNTT debut for the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra.
In a small fishing village there is a beautiful, white sand beach. The sand "sings" when walked upon. The villagers are poor, and when the cargo from ships wrecked offshore washes up on their beach, they see it as a blessing bestowed on them by the gods. Every year, as the peak of typhoon season approaches, the village holds a "wind festival". A "tiger dance" is performed in a ritual to predict the coming storms. One villager is a young blind woman, Isago, who pines for the return of Minaji, a young man who is missing at sea. She waits for him and takes comfort in the faint sound of the singing sand. Isago's sister, Nagisa, and Minaji's adoptive parents, Jisaku and Toma, watch over Isago. It pains them to see Isago feel this way. One day, a large ship is wrecked by huge storm, and Minaji reappears. A mountain priest performs a purification ceremony, when suddenly the ship flashes three times with a blue light. Next, a woman appears who is swathed in a blue light. The mysterious woman goes by the name of Eteru.
Minaji and the other men are smitten with Eteru, but the women are suspicious and want her gone. They try to drive her from the village.
Isago is mad with grief. The other women sympathize with her, and their hostility toward Eteru and the blue light grows stronger.
In no time, the village is divided, with the men and woman taking opposite sides. The feelings between Minaji and Isago are evident, and Isago has come to hate them both. In a rage, she slashes away at the blue light with a sword. Eteru disappears with a scream; going after her, Minaji falls from the ship. When all is over, the gallant Minaji has been lost, scrap wood that was once the ship litters the beach, and the sand sings no more.