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NNTT OPERA Opens the 2010/2011 Season in Splendid Style with Arabella

On Saturday, October 2, the curtain rose on the 2010/2011 opera season with the premiere of the New National Theatre, Tokyo (NNTT) production of Arabella.

Otaka Tadaaki, who is beginning his first season as artistic director (opera) at the NNTT, expressed his strong desire to produce Arabella as the very first opera of his tenure, and this premier is the culmination of his tremendous efforts. It is perhaps the most accessible of all the works of Richard Strauss, and it is a work that brings a smile to everyone’s face in Vienna.

Producer Philippe Arlaud, who has been called a “magician of light,” has set the stage in the 1930s, the Golden Age of Vienna, when Klimt and others were active and when Jugendstil style was at its height. The scenery is extremely fashionable as a beautiful blue illumination shines on a modern set that incorporates numerous curves.

Taking up the baton is Ulf Schirmer, who succeeded Riccardo Chailly last year as the musical director at the Opernhaus Leipzig . Already this year he has conducted Arabella in March at the Wiener Staatsoper and in June at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and using his talents he was able to draw a passionate performance from the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra that allowed us to enjoy the rich sounds of Strauss.

This production of Arabella is presented by a sublime cast, including Michaela Kaune (soprano) as the beautiful and elegant Arabella, Agnete Munk Rasmussen (soprano) as the lovely Zdenka, Thomas Johannes Mayer (baritone) as the wild and charismatic Mandryka, Oliver Ringelhahn (tenor) as the earnest and honest Matteo, Tsumaya Hidekazu (bass) and Takemoto Setsuko as the comedic Count Graf Waldner and Adelaide, and the marvelous coloratura voice of Amou Akie (soprano) as Die Fiaker-Milli.

The singers, orchestra, director, and the costumes created by international fashion designer Mori Hanae are interwoven to produce a stunning and refined setting that drew tremendous applause from the opening night audience.

The response to the performance was extremely positive, as we received such comments as, “The singing and the expressiveness of the performances were wonderful! The scenery was picturesque, the colors were very memorable, and it felt as if both the setting and the production were done on a grand scale. It was a wonderfully refreshing performance that cast away the everyday gloom.”

Among those enjoying the production were former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Kono Yohei, and the ambassadors and cultural attachés from eight nations. They unanimously declared that it was a fabulous performance, and were impressed with the high quality of the NNTT production.

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the former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro,
Executive Director Nirasawa Hiroshi,
President Toyama Atsuko

Ms. Mori Hanae and
the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Kono Yohei


Thai Ambassador and Mrs. Virasakdi Futrakul,
President Toyama Atsuko

Ukrainian Ambassador and Mrs. Mykola Kulinichi,
Advisor, Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. Anzai Kunio,
Executive Director Kadota Hiroshi


Adovisor, Tokyo Electoric Power Co., Ltd. Minami Noya,
President, Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation Nahara Tsuyoshi,
Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and Mrs. Kondo Seiichi

Direcotr of Tokyo American Center Ann M. Kambara,
American Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission James P. Zumwalt,
Executive Director Okabe Shuji