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In this short chamber opera, which is inspired by the traditional Noh play Futari Shizuka (The Two Shizukas), Toshio Hosokawa's music tells the unique story of the encounter of an ancient Japanese ghost with a present-day refugee.
The libretto, written by Oriza Hirata is sung both in English and Japanese: a migrant woman, Helen (soprano), is lost on a beach shore where she meets another woman, who has been lost in the snow for nine centuries: The Ghost of Lady Shizuka. They share a tragic fate, caused by men’s wars, but their encounter might change their paths.
This is the unusual premise for this cathartic and trans-historic piece where Western and Eastern traditions meet, mixing the codes of Noh Theater and contemporary lyrical opera. The role of Lady Shizuka was specifically written for Japanese Noh singer and dancer Ryoko Aoki.
Futari Shizuka was commissioned by Ensemble Intercontemporain and premiered at Cité de la Musique, Paris, in December 2017 with Matthias Pintscher as conductor. The production by Thomas Israël premiered in Korea at Tongyeong International Music Festival 2019 with Shiyeon Sung as conductor, and Sarah Wegener and Ryoko Aoki in the roles of Helen and The Ghost of Lady Shizuka.
Space Requirements & Stage Set-Up
2 versions of screens will be available:
- a reduced screen for touring purposes or
- a reasonably sized screen suitable for most venues (12m x 5,5m or 10mx5m)
The size of screen can be reduced, which requires some programming and re-editing.
Position of orchestra:
- flexible: e.g. can go on stage or in the pit
4 or 5 video projectors controlled by a pc, linked in RJ45
- retro back-screen: 15K wide angle HD (1 or 2)
- Tulles:2 x 12k HD + mounting
- Front:1x 10k HD
Camera on the conductor + 3 direct TV for singers
Software licence millumine
- a list of moving and fixed lights can be provided
1 headset skin-tone microphone for Not singer + amplification
1 stereo microphone for orchestra
4 communication headset for light, stage & video technician & stage manager
Minimal on-site team required:
1 sound technician for set-up and Noh singer’s amplification during show
3 light technician for set-up - 1 “stand-by” during the show
2 video technicians for set-up - 1 “stand-by” during the show
3 Technicians for stage setup - 1 during the show with head-set
For the first staged performance, the technical set-up requires 3 whole days in the venue and a rehearsal on the day of the performance. For any consecutive performances or touring-type performances, a whole day is needed for technical set-up plus rehearsal on the day of the performance.
Note: For festivals with multiple performances in the same venue:
Only the stage set (dune and back screen) can be mount and unmount everyday, all light and video equipment above stage and in technical room must stay in place and untouched.
This production travels with a team of four technicians from Belgium plus one production/tour manager:
Director, stage and video design: Thomas Israel
Video Operator: A. Goldschmith
Light Technician: Arie Van Egmond
Artistic Assistant: K. Nicolela
Note: In some countries, an interpreter (English/French) should be provided as required.
Conductor: Shiyeon Sung
Soprano (role of Helen): Sarah Wegener
Noh Singer & Dancer (role of Ghost): Ryoko Aoki
Chamber orchestra (21 members):
5 wood winds (1 pic&bfl, 1 ca, 2 bcl, 1 cbsn)
5 brass winds (18.104.22.168 – trumpets, horn, trombone, tuba)
8 string players (3vn.2va.2vc.db), 1 harp, 1 piano and celesta
1-3 perc (I: 3sus cym, tam-t, b.d; II: gong, tam-t, 2wdbl, 4furin, anti cym, water; III: vib, gong, bng(2 pairs), 4fruin, 4rins on timp, anti cym, water)
Performance duration: 45’0’’
Music Publisher: Schott Music Co. Ltd., Tokyo
When opera meets Noh
A migrant woman lost on a beach shore meets another woman lost in the snow for 9 centuries. They share a tragic fate, caused by men’s wars, but their encounter might change their paths. This is the unusual premise for this cathartic and trans-historic piece, mixing the codes of Noh Theater and contemporary lyrical opera.
Lady Shizuka’s story is more than 900 years old, but it continues to move us as it is filled with timeless dramatic elements: absolute love beyond death, abandonment, bravery, fratricidal quarrels, unquenchable pain and a quest for liberation. This strong yet abandoned woman who defies authority for love, also questions the status of women.
Each era adapts Lady Shizuka’s story in the light of its preoccupations. The fate of migrants is at the heart of our civilization. It will shape our humanity and pose questions whose answers will forge tomorrow’s societies. Thus, it is important that this question merge here with the drama of Lady Shizuka – despite the centuries between them, the tragedies of these two women expose the fragility of every human civilization.
The space of this opera, like usually in Noh theater, is at the edge, in this “in-between” space where humans can communicate with ghosts. We have dealt with it as it is was the third character of this opera, Its an interactive space that is evolving symbiotically with the music of Toshio Hosokawa.
Thomas Israël (1975) is a multimedia artist based in Brussels, who creates installations and video performances that are immersive and interactive works. Coming from a contemporary theatre background, his atypical and transdisciplinary approach to digital arts revolves around societal themes, the body, time and the subconscious.
He is a theatre director and video designer for stages such as the Bordeaux Opera, Tokyo Opera City, Theatre Impérial de Compiegne, Theatre de l'Athene in Paris, Charlerois-danse and Varia Theater.
Skinstrap, his first performance in body-mapping, won a prize at the prestigious Japan Media Art Festival 2013.
His work has been shown at the MoMA in New York, at the Society for Arts and Technology in Montreal, at the Musée des Abattoirs in Toulouse and, since 2005, at many festivals, fairs, galleries and museums around the world. He is represented by Galerie Charlot in Paris & Tel-Aviv.