This contemporary opera will be presented in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Meiji era haiku master/poet Shiki Masaoka. Performed by a chamber orchestra, the work sings out readings, haiku and tanka in the form of arias, while following Shiki’s life and achievements with a focus on his interaction with his close friend Soseki Natsume.
The work draws a clear line of distinction in relation to conventional Western opera. It expresses through heterophony the wabisabi (simplicity and subdued refinement) inherent in Japanese culture, and champions the creation of a distinctive Japanese opera culture by combining the world of haiku and tanka with classical music.
Librettist/composer/director/conductor: Sakuzo Sendo
Libretto supervisor: Ichiro Fukumoto (Professor Emeritus, Kanagawa University/Japanese literature scholar)
Akihiro Oka (graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School / First prize winner, 44th Japan Italy Vocal Concorso)
Takehiro Shida (Ph.D., Tokyo University of the Arts / First Prize winner, vocal division, Music Competition of Japan)
Kei Kondo (top-seat graduate of Kunitachi College of Music Graduate School / member of the Nikikai Opera Foundation)
Yuji Shida (graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts)
Juri Tanaka (graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School)
Shikian Preservation Society
Located in the Negishi area of Taito-ku, Tokyo, the Shikian Preservation Society was established in 1928 with the aims of preserving and showing to the public the former residence, personal items and literary documents of Meiji-era haiku master Shiki Masaoka, honoring Shiki’s achievements and studying his literary works. The society’s first chairperson was Shiki’s younger sister, Ritsu Masaoka. It continues to keep the residence open to the public throughout the year thanks to the work of volunteers; and, in addition to welcoming many visitors to the place that is Shiki’s sacred ground, it is committed to carrying out programs for the dissemination of culture from the Shikian of today.
Composer, born in Akita Prefecture in 1945. Sendo studied music theory and composition with music scholar/composer Minao Shibata. His many awards include the 3rd Miyazawa Kenji Encouragement Award (as a member of the production group for the operetta “A Well-Ordered Restaurant”). Sendo’s major compositions include the symphonic poems “Tonegawa River 322,” “Tamagawa River 138” and “Arakawa River 173/Sumidagawa River 23.5”; and the operas Song of Praise Teganuma, Chieko-sho, Go-ju-no-To, Hakken-den, Matsuo Basho Okuno-Hosomichi and Kobayashi Issa: Shichiban Nikki. In recent years he has set to music many haikus by Basho Matsuo and Issa Kobayashi, and waka and tanka by such poets as Ichiyo Higuchi, Akiko Yosano and Bokusui Wakayama. Sendo is an adviser of Arakawa-ku, Tokyo.
Shikian Preservation Society
2-5-11, Negishi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0003
Taito Lifelong Learning Center: Millennium hall (Taito City, Tokyo)