Ballet & Dance

New Production (World première)
Osan, from "Shinju Ten no Amijima"
Original by Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Music and Libretto by Kubo Mayako
3 performances

February 25(Fri)6:30pm, 26(Sat)3:00pm, 27(Sun)3:00pm 2005

Conductor:Kanda Keiichi
Director:Aguni Jun

This is the NNTT’s ninth production of an opera by a Japanese composer. The first was Dan Ikuma’s TAKERU performed to commemorate the grand opening of the NNTT in 1997, and the last two were Narukami and Shunkan, staged in January 2004, which attracted public attention because of Ichikawa Danjuro’s debut as an opera director. The music and libretto were written by Kubo Mayako, who has been highly successful overseas. In 1996, she was commissioned by the Opernhaus Bühnen Graz, the prestigious opera house in Graz, the second largest city in Austria, and the gateway to success at the Wiener Staatsoper, and by the organizers of the Steirischer Herbst (Styrian Autumn) Festival to write an opera. Her opera Rashomon, staged on the opening day of the festival in 1996, was a great success. Its Japan premiere based on the Japanese-language version in 2002 is still fresh in our memories. Based on Shinju Ten no Amijima (The Love Suicide at Amijima) by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the opera by the same name is a tragedy of contradiction and conflict that arises from eroticism and reason. High hopes are placed on the world premiere of the work, which dramaturgically suits this season’s theme: the “Fate of Women.”

<Japanese operas performed at the NNTT in the past>
TAKERU, October 1997
Tenshu Monogatari (The Tale of Castle Tower), February 1999
Tsumi to Batsu (Crime and Punishment), June 1999
Chinmoku (Silence), March 2000
Yuzuru (The Twilight Crane), December 2000
Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), January 2002
Hikari (Light), January 2003
Narukami and Shunkan, January 2004

Note by the Composer, June 2003
Adapting classical literature for opera cannot be justified simply by shifting what is common to the two categories in style and idea to the contemporary setting. There is a gap that cannot be ignored between the present day and the period when Shinju Ten no Amijima, on which this opera is based, was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon and performed, and the world of giri (obligation) and ninjo (human feelings) has also changed. The reason Shinju Ten no Amijima still makes a powerful impression on the audience and writers is Chikamatsu’s aesthetic sense and humanism. The focus of appreciation by modern enthusiasts is the pursuit of the prototypes of human beings created by Chikamatsu, which are hidden behind giri and ninjo in the Genroku period (1688-1704) and in early capitalism.

There is no end to the stimulation my imagination receives from original drama by Chikamatsu. This testifies that the original drama is rich in content. Why did Osan intend to rescue Jihei and Koharu without thinking of herself? Why was Jihei unable to make a decision to choose between his wife and Koharu? Was Osan simply a good wife and wise mother? Answers are varied. I want to write about the absurdity of love based on humanism derived from Chikamatsu rather than his Shinju Ten no Amijima.