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.