Ballet & Dance

Invitation to the 2005/2006 Opera Season
The New National Theatre, Tokyo has made remarkable progress during the past two seasons with the aim of becoming one of the world’s most important opera houses. Thanks to excellent artists from Japan and abroad, as well as enthusiastic audiences, the NNTT has presented outstanding productions that promise to establish the theatre as one of the standards in operatic circles. The artists and I would like to sincerely thank audiences for their generous support of the NNTT. The theatre is also a place in which various generations of people gather to enjoy opera together. The program for my third season proposes a journey of opera from Mozart to contemporary composers.
The theme for the 2005/2006 season is the “Fate of heroes.” In the course of our lives, we encounter different people with different attitudes to life, such as those who have to overcome their very dramatic destiny and those who can surmount their destiny while smiling whatever it may be. Common to these people is the fact that they have their own objectives in life and always cherish them. This is precisely what makes them heroes. Nothing stimulates our dreams more fiercely than the story of a hero or people who believe that they are heroes.


[Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg] (New Production)

No opera would be more suitable for a season opener as Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg). This opera combines the truths of society with music to directly appeal to our minds and is usually performed on special occasions. In order to put on this production, we have invited a most powerful team of artists, which consists of Bernd Weikl, Frank Philipp Schlössmann and Mechthild Seipel. Bernd Weikl is not only one of the most prominent singers in operatic circles but also a super star that displays his profound knowledge of music in his writing and opera direction as well. Frank Schlössmann has become one of the most important scenery designers in the world since Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), performed in 2003, which opened my first season as Artistic Director of the NNTT. Leading the team is Stefan Anton Reck, a conductor who has both strength and authority. I am sure that this team will fascinate us with their brilliant interpretations of the opera.
[Il barbiere di Siviglia] (New Production)
This is the second new production for this season. If you think that Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) is a simple, charming opera, then you are overlooking the grandeur of this work. This opera requires the ability to act comically as well as to be able to meet the high levels of musical technique demanded by Rossini. For this production, it is a great pleasure to be able to invite the director Josef E. Köpplinger, a rising star recommended by numerous directors in Europe, and the conductor Nir Kabaretti, who is well known for his profound understanding of this celebrated work in Madrid and Florence. These two artists, together with the splendid cast of singers, promise you an experience like a display of fireworks weaving a tapestry of comedy and music.
[Andrea Chénier] (New Production)
You may remember the moving performance of Les contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) directed by Philippe Arlaud. His ability as a storyteller and his splendid scenery captured the audience. In this new production, he will work on the romantic love story of Andrea Chénier, a great French poet. No one is more suitable to introduce us to the world of passion and revolution than this French artist. The conductor Miguel Gomez-Martinez will undoubtedly deliver Umberto Giordano’s music with a powerful performance. Even at this early stage, I am excited about Gérard who will be sung by Carlos Álvarez.
[Les contes d’Hoffmann]
November 2005 at the NNTT will be the month for people who love French culture. The team of Philippe Arlaud and Ban Tetsuro, which achieved success in the performance of Les contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann), will give a repeat performance of this opera. The new cast of singers, including James Morris, will invite us into the world of poetry.

[Die Zauberflöte][Così fan tutte]

The year 2006 is “Mozart Year”. Various events will take place around the globe to celebrate the greatest genius the music world has ever produced. The NNTT will invite a wonderful cast of singers to give a repeat performance of two of his masterpieces, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and Così fan tutte (All Women Behave like This). In the former, Rainer Trost will sing Tamino, and Nakajima Akiko, Elena Zhidkova and other talented singers will appear in the latter. The NNTT will celebrate “Mozart Year” by performing these two fine works back-to-back with their respective dazzling casts of singers.
[AI-EN] (New Production / World Première)
Commissioned by the NNTT, AI-EN was composed by Miki Minoru based on a libretto by the novelist Setouchi Jakucho and will receive its first stage performance in this production and carries on the tradition of contemporary music in Japan. Deeply rooted in Japanese history, the story of this opera will arouse the historical interest of the audience. Another new opera will be born in Japan.
[La forza del destino] (New Production)
This is Verdi’s masterpiece which dramatically depicts the merciless fate of love, friendship and hatred. In order to preserve their own honor, two men give up their mutual friendship and fight a duel with each other. It is Leonora, the daughter of a marquis, who rouses these men into action. Leonora will be sung by Anna Shafajinskaia, her brother Don Carlo by Christopher Robertson and her lover Don Alvaro by Robert Dean Smith. Their dramatic singing will make this work full of violent passion even more striking.
[Cavalleria rusticana / I pagliacci]
The productions of two major successful verismo operas, Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) and I pagliacci (The Clowns), will return to the NNTT under the baton of Fabio Luisi. Christian Franz will sing in both operas, displaying his broad repertoire. Another feature that must not be missed is that Gabriele Schnaut will sing Santuzza.
[Die Fledermaus] (New Production)
Ending this season of drama and passion is Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by Johann Strauss II. It is an honor for an opera house that strives to stand at the frontline of opera to add this masterpiece to its repertoire. The stage director Heinz Zednik and the scenery designer Olaf Zombeck will successfully create the atmosphere of fin-de-siècle Vienna during the latter part of the Hapsburgs’ imperial rule, which reached the zenith of its prosperity at the end of the 19th century. Conductor Johannes Wildner will guarantee the audience of an accurate rendering of Strauss’ music. The pick of singers, including Wolfgang Brendel, who sings Eisenstein, as well as Nancy Gustafson, Sergei Leiferkus, Paul Armin Edelmann, Nakajima Akiko and Elena Zhidkova, will breathe life into the characters of marked individuality to capture the audience’s imagination.

The NNTT and all the artists invited to perform here are carefully preparing for the forthcoming challenging season. I hope they will take you to the magic world known as opera so that you can enjoy this wonderful theatre to its fullest.
Thomas Novohradsky
Thomas Novohradsky
Artistic Director, Opera
New National Theatre, Tokyo
For details of the lineup and other information, please click here.