On the Passing of Mr. Hiroshi Wakasugi,
NNTT Artistic Director (Opera)

On July 21, 2009, Mr. Hiroshi Wakasugi, artistic director (opera) of the New National Theatre, Tokyo (NNTT), succumbed to multiple organ failure. The Japanese opera community, and the international musical community as a whole, is truly grief-stricken at this loss, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences.

Mr. Wakasugi assumed the post of artistic director (opera) in 2007, the year in which the NNTT celebrated its 10th anniversary. By applying the experience he had gained from working in Europe’s “musical theater,EMr. Wakasugi worked tirelessly to solidify the NNTT’s position as a national theater and to give it a unique identity, leaving behind an invaluable legacy.

While taking up the type of universally appealing works that could be called the operatic version of the “classic 18 kabuki plays,EMr. Wakasugi also staged such works as the Black Ships–Yoake, which was first performed in 1940 and is known as the dawning of Japanese opera, and last month he successfully staged Shuzenji Monogatari (A Mask-Maker’s Story), a postwar piece produced by Tojuro Sakata. He introduced 20th-century operas including Die Soldaten and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and whether it was his productions that preserved the operatic traditions or those that he staged in a more contemporary style, Mr. Wakasugi’s work was held in the highest esteem.

It is truly unfortunate and extremely sad that Mr. Wakasugi passed away in the midst of his tenure as artistic director. The plans for his third season, which runs through next summer, are nearly complete, and until the season comes to its climax in June 2010 with the world premiere of the newly commissioned opera Rokumeikan, all of us at the theater will work together to carry out his final wishes and stage the ambitious operas he had selected.

Once again, I offer my deepest condolences to Mr. Wakasugi’s loved ones. I ask for understanding and cooperation from all those concerned as we work to carry on his vision for the coming year.

July 21, 2009

New National Theatre, Tokyo
Toyama Atsuko, President