News Archive

2010/12/ 8

NBJ will open its 2011/2012 Ballet Season with
David Bintley’s new production of The Prince of the Pagodas

The National Ballet of Japan, is pleased to announce that the 2011/2012 ballet season will open with the world premiere of The Prince of the Pagodas, choreographed by Artistic Director David Bintley.

If we look at the etymology of the word “pagoda,” it contains such meanings as “the house of an idol,” “the house to which a god belongs,” or “the house of the Buddha.” The initial version of this ballet evolved from a concept developed by John Cranko, a renowned choreographer in England, and the music was entrusted to British composer Benjamin Britten. Together, they created a ballet in three acts, The Prince of the Pagodas. The ballet was first performed in 1957 by the Royal Ballet, and while Cranko held great affection for this work, and although it was performed by many other ballet companies over the years, in the end it never became a fixture in the Royal Ballet’s repertoire. Kenneth MacMillan, whose mentor was Cranko, decided to restage The Prince of the Pagodas. He worked for many years on the piece, obtaining Britten’s permission, strengthening the storyline, and making other substantial revisions, and in 1989, at the commemoration of MacMillan’s 60th birthday, the finished work was performed by the Royal Ballet.

For the premiere of this peace at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, Artistic Director Bintley has reworked the story and added completely new choreography. Taking inspiration from Japanese artwork, including the ukiyo-e prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Bintley has added his own variations to the plot, making the story accessible to everyone. In addition, the music by Britten, which is one of the attractions of this work, draws the listener in with enchanting sounds that are influenced by the traditional Balinese gamelan musical ensembles, and this is the first time that the score will be heard in its entirety in Japan.

The last piece that Bintley choreographed and premiered at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, Aladdin, received a great deal of attention worldwide, and there are currently plans for ballet companies overseas to stage it. This is a good example of the high level of artistry that the National Ballet of Japan is conveying to the world, and the upcoming production of The Prince of the Pagodas will also be the focus of attention in terms of what it conveys to the world.

We hope that you will eagerly look forward to the world premiere of this work by a unique storyteller, David Bintley’s The Prince of the Pagodas.

The emperor is unable to recover from his grief at the untimely death of his son. Time passes and kings from four lands come to ask for the hand of his daughter, Princess Rose. Her stepmother, the empress, is strongly encouraging her stepdaughter’s marriage in order to gain wealth and power, but Princess Rose rejects these suitors. Then a fifth prince appears. He is in fact her brother, who has been turned into a golden salamander through a spell cast by their stepmother. Princess Rose must endure various ordeals, but she finally arrives with the salamander at his kingdom’s pagoda, where she learns that the salamander is indeed her long-lost older brother. Can brother and sister combine forces to restore peace to their kingdom?