Ballet & Dance

Invitation to the 2004/2005 Opera Season
The 2004/2005 season is my second season as Artistic Director of this magnificent opera house, the New National Theatre, Tokyo. The 2003/2004 season opened a new chapter for the NNTT. The strong message the theatre sent throughout the world made me realize that the NNTT is a competitive and creative opera house. I will continue to do my best to establish the NNTT as one of the world's leading opera houses. I believe that the upcoming season will again bring first-class artists to the NNTT from Japan and the rest of the world and I am sure they will give unique and wonderful performances. Let us set out on a new journey to explore the history of opera together with the NNTT. The theme for the 2004/2005 season is the "Fate of Women." In the upcoming season, we will focus on women offering irresistible charm, concentrating on their dreams, dedication, self-sacrifice, hopes, decisions and love.

[Cavalleria Rusticana /I Pagliacci] 
The 2004/2005 season will open with the operas by Pietro Mascagni and Ruggiero Leoncavallo. Here, we will meet two women, Santuzza and Nedda, both of whom are betrayed by their hopes. These works express the world of emotions, the tradition of Italian opera. With Grischa Asagaroff as stage director, Luigi Perego as set and costume designer and Ban Tetsuro as conductor, the two productions will be filled with true Italian spirit and emotion and promise to be unforgettable events.
The second new production in the season is a masterpiece by Richard Strauss, and the opera is set in ancient Greece. Elektra was chosen for the reason that it is, needless to say, a musically challenging work and, above all, it is a story of the strong love of a daughter who firmly vows never to betray the virtues of her father. She has a cast-iron determination to spare no effort in order to protect her father. Ever since the opera's first performance in 1909, the title role has been the gateway to success for all talented singers. The conductor, Ulf Schirmer, is deeply versed in Straussian music and is sure to present a superb, new interpretation.
Lulu is the third new production. One of the works that represents 20th-century opera, Lulu portrays the mysteries of feminine charm. The men in this world seem to be caught in a cobweb woven by a "naive woman." David Pountney, a world-class stage director, and the conductor Stefan Anton Reck, will present Lulu's charm through their persuasive artistic expression. I am very grateful that Sato Shinobu has met my long wish for her to sing the title role. The role of Lulu will no doubt show us a new side of her artistic talent.
[Osan, from "Shinju Ten no Amijima"]
The upcoming season will present the world premiere of the opera by Kubo Mayako, a Japanese composer. I have been strongly drawn to her works for some time now, and among them, this new work especially stimulated my interest. This opera offers exactly the story that I have been seeking in contemporary opera, with elements that will not fail to move people today. Two women and a man live in the flow of intertwined, inescapable fates.
[Così Fan Tutte]
Now I would like to look away from the many dramas we have experienced in the works presented earlier to two women who get involved in a humorous whirlwind of utter confusion. Così Fan Tutte (Women Are Like That) is part of the Mozart cycle, which started with Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Directed by Kornelia Repschlaeger, noted among the young stage directors for her ambitious staging that is characterized by profound storytelling, and conducted by Dan Ettinger, Così Fan Tutte will be a special and colorful production with Davide Pizzigoni as set and costume designer.
Is there any other operatic character with a love so strong that could move the audience more than Leonore? Her deep, everlasting love for her husband Florestan opens the door of the prison, releases him from suppression and cuts off the chains of captivity. We will witness the incomparable love of Leonore through the director Marco Arturo Marelli's unique method of expression. The conductor Michael Boder, who excels in the interpretation of Beethoven's music, will lead the orchestra as the perfect partner to the stage director.
[Madama Butterfly]
Giacomo Puccini seems to have understood the tragedy of a Japanese woman split between two different cultures more deeply than anyone else, although he never once visited Japan. This is not a simple story of romance. The Italian composer depicts with a critical eye the behavior of a foreigner who, due to his ignorance, slights the feelings of the people he is living among. On the other hand, maestro Puccini, who stands unrivaled in portraying women of the highest virtue, talks about this dearest woman, Cio-Cio-San, with special feeling. She does not make a compromise in her love although she realizes her own misunderstanding. I firmly believe that this story of Cio-Cio-San can be eloquently told only by the brilliant Japanese stage directors. I am very pleased that Kuriyama Tamiya readily accepted my offer and that he will be working with the conductor Renato Palumbo to produce this opera.

In addition to the new productions described above, in the 2004/2005 season we will offer revivals of La Bohème, La Traviata, Macbeth and Le Nozze di Figaro. Also, in the upcoming season, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra will create music that can only be heard at this opera house. Enthusiastic efforts by the singers of the New National Theatre Chorus will also be one of the features that make us harbor great expectations for the new season. Likewise, singers invited not only from Japan but also from around the world are looking forward to performing at the NNTT again or making their debut here. They will marshal their respective artistic talents to move us and help us realize our dreams.

The curtain is rising on the challenging 2004/2005 season.
I look forward to seeing you here at the theatre.

Thomas Novohradsky
Artistic Director for the Opera Division
New National Theatre, Tokyo
For details of the lineup and other information, please click here.