The opening day of the world premiere of Rokumeikan at last arrived. The production of this opera, which is based on a play by Mishima Yukio, was a long-held desire of NNTT’s late artistic director (Opera), Wakasugi Hiroshi. The composer is Ikebe Shinichiro, who first began discussing the idea of turning the story into an opera with Mr. Wakasugi roughly 10 years ago. Uyama Hitoshi, NNTT’s artistic director (play), oversaw both the libretto and the production, and has succeeded brilliantly in solving the dilemma of how to dramatically transform Mishima’s work into an opera. Numajiri Ryusuke, who succeeded Mr. Wakasugi as the artistic director of Biwako Hall, served as conductor, leading a collection of Japan’s finest opera singers, who came together for the final work of NNTT’s 2009/2010 season.
When the performance ended and it was time for the curtain call, there was thunderous applause as a photograph of Mr. Wakasugi was projected on a screen behind the stage, allowing the theatre and our patrons to join together and share in the joy of having achieved Mr. Wakasugi’s goal for the season.
Baritone Kuroda Hiroshi, who appeared in all of the Japan operas during Mr. Wakasugi’s directorial seasons, The Black Ships—Yoake, Shuzenji Monogatari (A Mask-Maker’s Story), and Rokumeikan, offered the message below.
On the Premiere of Rokumeikan
Dear Mr. Wakasugi,
How are you? I’m sure that you are still at the center of a ring of people there, keeping very busy. Surely you are directing heavenly music. Here on earth, Rokumeikan has finally opened. This was the final performance you planned as artistic director of NNTT, and it was the conclusion of the three-year Japan opera series, which started with the dawn of Japanese opera, The Black Ships—Yoake, then went on to the work that symbolized the postwar period, Shuzenji Monogatari, and finally this new performance. While for many years you conducted operas overseas, you always loved Japan’s traditional culture, its performing arts, and its aesthetic sense. By all means, I believe that all of us who are involved in this production of Rokumeikan must share and must pass along your passion to see operas by Japanese people develop and bloom at this theater. I am extremely honored to have been able to appear in all three of the “Wakasugi Japanese Operas Trilogy” (as I have taken the liberty of naming them), and at the same time I feel a heavy sense of responsibility. I hope that you will watch over me with your usual warmth and sternness.
Kuroda Hiroshi (Count Kageyama Hisatoshi)
The Black Ships—Yoake
Shuzenji Monogatari (A Mask-Maker’s Story)