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“The Story of a Salesman” Opera for (soprano,) baritone and piano (1992)

In Text on June 20, 2014 at 3:39 pm


[Plot – Original text in Japanese: Tsuyoshi Futakuchi]
Scene 1: Ambition of a man who came to a big city – Imagination of having a date – Success in door-to-door sales
Scene 2: His desire for success in life – In a fashionable nightclub
Scene 3: Anxiety for the hustle and bustle of daily life – He rebukes his subordinate. – A call from his former girlfriend in his hometown – After talking, he breaks with the past.
Scene 4: Nostalgic dream – Fatigue – Failure – His subordinate disappears.
Scene 5: Calling for his former girlfriend, he gets to know that his hometown is developing, and that she will marry another man. – Conflict (pantomime) – A call from his subordinate who survived

Premiered on Wednesday 29th April 1992 at Kunteki-Jinja, Kochi Prefecture.
By: Kazutaka Shibamura, Bar. / Yuri Sunai, Pf. / Satoru Ikeda, Syn.
Duration: 40 min.
Salesman
The performance excerpts
Scene 1 [6:45] mp3 Just a moment
Scene 2 [4:41] mp3 Just a moment
Scene 3 [7:33] mp3 Just a moment
Scene 4 [7:27] mp3 Just a moment
Scene 5 [7:12] mp3 Just a moment

“L’Eau de Belle Forêt” Operetta (1996)

In Text on April 9, 2013 at 3:59 am


[Plot – Original text in Japanese: Hiromitsu Tsuchiya]
Act 1: In a forest, animals are frolicking around a large ginkgo tree spirit. The bell of a shrine rings, and many ginkgo nuts fall down. A boy, Yokichi, comes seeking a golden snake living in the pond, but he is taken into custody by a feudal lord and his followers. Yokichi gets away, finds the snake, then chops it for its blood. It causes the pond to run dry, and a storm develops in the forest.

Act 2: In the drought-stricken forest, animals look for water to survive. Yokichi regrets his actions, swears to band with the animals and all of them dance for joy. At that very moment, the followers of the feudal lord fire a shot, and the forest bursts into flames… The fire is put out. Stars twinkle in the night sky. At dawn, Yokichi and the animals pray to the ginkgo tree spirit to revive the forest.

Premiered on Sunday 15th, December 1996 at the opening of Nagaizumi Cultural Center, Shizuoka Prefecture.
By Nagaizumi Children Chorus (Choir director: Mitsuyo Shinoda) / Chamber orchestra (1Fl. 1Cl. 3Tp. 4Hr. 1Vn. / 1Pf: Hajime Ozawa)
Conducted by Satoru Ikeda.
Commissioned by Nagaizumi-cho
Duration: 60 min.

Operetta The excerpts from the rehearsal
Act-1 [6:05] mp3 Just a moment
Act-2 [12:01] mp3 Just a moment
Epilogue [2:10] mp3 Just a moment

Solitude – Oscar V de L Milosz (1877-1939)

In Text on January 3, 2013 at 5:25 am


Je me suis réveillé sous l’azur de l’absence
Dans l’immense midi de la mélancolie.
L’ortie des murs croulants boit le soleil des morts.
   Silence.

Où m’avez-vous conduit, Mère aveugle, ô ma vie ?
Dans quel enfer du souvenir où l’herbe pense,
Où l’océan des temps cherche à tâtons ses bords ?
   Silence.

Echo du précipice, appelle-moi ! Démence,
Trempe tes jaunes fleurs dans la source où je bois,
Mais que les jours passés se détachent de moi !
   Silence.

Vous qui m’avez créé, vous qui m’avez frappé,
Vous vers qui l’aloès, cœur des gouffres, s’élance,
Père ! à vos pieds meurtris trouverai-je la paix ?
   Silence.

Cave

Solitude – Oscar V de L Milosz (1877-1939)

In Text on January 3, 2013 at 5:16 am


I woke under the azure of emptiness
Amidst the immense midday of melancholy.
The nettle on the crumbling walls drinks the sun of the dead.
   Silence.

Whither have you led me, blind Mother, oh my life ?
To whate’er memory’s hell where the grass thinks,
Where the ocean of time seeks warily its shores ?
   Silence.

Precipice’s echo, call for me ! Madness,
Dip your yellow flowers in the spring whence I drink,
But let the bygone days break loose from me !
   Silence.

You who created me, you who minted me,
You upon whom rushes the aloe, heart of the abyss,
Father ! will I find peace at your bruised feet ?
   Silence.

La_mer (Translated by © H. Gouveia)

The Salutation

In Text on February 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

These little Limbs,
  These Eys and Hands which here I find,
This panting Heart wherwith my Life begins;
    Where have ye been?  Behind
What Curtain were ye from me hid so long!
Where was, in what Abyss, my new-made Tongue?

    When silent I
  So many thousand thousand Years
Beneath the Dust did in a Chaos ly,
    How could I Smiles, or Tears,
Or Lips, or Hands, or Eys, or Ears perceiv?
Welcom ye Treasures which I now receive.

    I that so long
  Was Nothing from Eternity,
Did little think such Joys as Ear and Tongue
    To celebrat or see:
Such Sounds to hear, such Hands to feel, such Feet,
Beneath the Skies, on such a Ground to meet.

    New burnisht Joys!
  Which finest Gold and Pearl excell!
Such sacred Treasures are the Limbs of Boys
    In which a Soul doth dwell:
Their organized Joints and azure Veins
More Wealth include than all the World contains.

    From Dust I rise
  And out of Nothing now awake;
These brighter Regions which salute mine Eyes
    A Gift from God I take:
The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the lofty Skies,
The Sun and Stars are mine; if these I prize.

    A Stranger here,
  Strange things doth meet, strange Glory see,
Strange Treasures lodg’d in this fair World appear,
    Strange all and New to me:
But that they mine should be who Nothing was,
That Strangest is of all; yet brought to pass.

  Thomas Traherne (1637 or 1639-1674)

Yashaga-Ike (Demon Pond) (2001)

In Text on November 30, 2009 at 10:42 am

I composed ‘Yashaga-Ike’ for a soprano, baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra in 2001. Based on the Play by Kyoka Izumi, its origin is the traditional fairy-tale of Yashagaike, the Dragon Princess.

Plot: Japan in 1933. A school teacher Gakuen Yamasawa journeys to a drought-stricken village in search of a missing friend, Akira Hagiwara. He asks for food from the beautiful Yuri and she asks of him a story in payment. When he speaks about his friend, he realizes that his friend is her husband.

Akira has accepted a job as the keeper of the village bell – if the bell is not struck thrice daily the Dragon God imprisoned within the nearby Demon Pond will escape causing the pond to overflow and flood the village. Akira thinks this is superstition nonsense but has stayed because of Yuri.

Meanwhile inside the Pond, the Dragon God’s current embodiment, the Princess Shirayuki, has received a marriage invitation from the prince of another pond and desires to leave so she can marry, but cannot because of the magic of the bell.

Her chance comes when the villagers decide to sacrifice someone to stop the drought and choose Yuri.

The excerpts from the performance [16:27] mp3 Just a moment

Japanese Pronunciation Guide

In Text on August 2, 2009 at 11:36 am

Spoken Japanese consists of simple syllables, generally consisting of a vowel, or a consonant plus a vowel. There are few complex consonant clusters. All vowels and consonants have consistent pronunciation.
→Audio Site

▶ The basic five syllables (Vowels)
[a] – the sound “a” in “father”, but shorter.
[e] – similar to the vowel “e” in “egg”, but the mouth is not opened as wide.
[i] – similar to the vowel “ee ” in “eat”, but shorter.
[o] – similar to the first part of the “o” in “go”, with less lip-rounding.
[u] – similar to the vowel “oo” in “look”, but lips are not rounded, but spread.

▶ Consonants
[k] – as in “cut”.
[sh] – as in “seashore”.
[tsu] – like [ts] in “pets” or “cats”.
[kyu] – think of “cute”. The consonant plus semi-vowel ([ya], [yu],[yo]) becomes a single syllable.
[g] – like [g] in “go”. If it comes either in middle or end of word, depending on the region, it can be pronounced like [ng] in “song”. Either way is fine.
e.g. yomigaeri, yugure, tsugeru, tsurugi
[w] – as in “want”. Try not to round your lips.
[fu] – think of “who”. It is pronounced with a slight amount of friction between your upper and lower lips. As if you are about to blow out a candle, or whistle. Don’t pronounce like English [f].
[r] – Japanese [r] is not an English rolled [r], but more like a [d] (as in a British butler saying “very good, madam”). This sound is made by slightly lightly tapping the tip of your tongue just behind the teeth. About the same place your tongue hits when saying English [l].

▶ Double consonants [tt], [ss]
[tt] is similar to the “t” sound in the English word “cutter”.
e.g. mukatta
[ss] is similar to the “s” sound in the English word “dressing”.
e.g. issai

▶ Whispered Vowels
There are sometime vowels that are whispered in Japanese.
They are [i] and [u]. They are usually silent when they are before p, t, k, s, sh, etc.
e.g. kuchi – pronounced as ‘kchi’, tachisukumi – ‘tachiskumi’, futari – ‘ftari’

▶ Syllabic consonants
[n] is pronounced as follows.
Before the consonants [n], [t] and [d], it is pronounced “n” as in “night”.
e.g. nento, ten no
Before the consonants [k], [g] and [ng], it is pronounced “ng” as in “sing”.
e.g. shinko, tenkyu
Before the consonants [m], [p] and [b], it is pronounced “m” as in “moon”.
e.g. enpitsu
Before the vowels and other consonants not mentioned above, it is pronounced as a nasal vowel.
e.g. konjiki, tenshi

“Tsuki” for baritone and piano (2004)

In Text on May 31, 2009 at 2:46 am

In the direction of dusk, an arrow is released!

Following this introduction, the poem describes a wanderer who is seeking and eventually finds his star transformed into a stone at the edge of a desolate field.
In a deep mournful silence, the miserable wind blows, and he encounters an amass of dead trees arching over the beasts’ tombs.
The seasons passed, the heart only growing more fragile with each coming day.
Old farmers couldn’t reap bounteous harvests.

At night! In a shroud of darkness, an arrow is released again!

The second half beginning with this scene brings out his unforeseen fear demanding:
What’s the existence of the sky?
His vacant stare was forced to be dazzled by an acute pit in the universe, which was the moon (tsuki), like a bottomless abyss, blank, audacious…

Repeating the opening scene, cloaked by a comfortably fresh winter mist, he goes forward to seek his star once again.
And finally, he reaches the conclusion that no one shall pick up the star after all.

Original text in Japanese: Hanya KUBOTA (1926-2003)

moon music.png Music of e-book with complete audio file

The Divine Comedy; The Purgatorio Canto VIII (excerpt)

In Text on February 1, 2009 at 8:20 pm
It was the hour that turns the memories
    of sailing men their first day out,
    the bell that seems to mourn the dying day―
 
I watched a spirit. Raising his hands,
    he joined his palms in prayer and turned his rapt eyes east,
    as if to say: “I have no thought except that Thou art there.”
 
“Te lucis ante” swelled from him so sweetly,
    with such devotion and so pure a tone,
    my senses lost the sense of self completely.
 
Then all the others with a golden peal
    joined in the hymn and sang it to the end,
    their eyes devoutly raised to Heaven’s wheel.
 
I saw that host of kings,
    stand still and pale and humble,
    eyes raised to Heaven as if in expectation.
 
I saw two angels
    issue and descend from Heaven’s height,
    bearing two flaming swords.
 
Green as a leaf is at its first unfurling,
    their robes; and green the wings that beat and blew
    the flowing folds back, fluttering and whirling.
 
One landed just above me,
    and one flew to the other bank. Thus,
    the people were contained between the two.
 
I could see clearly that their hair was gold,
    but my eyes drew back bedazzled from their faces,
    defeated by more light than they could hold.
 
≪They are from Mary’s bosom≫ 
                                                                                         — English translation of the text

Te lucis ante (Romanized Japanese)

In Text on February 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm
Toki wa kita.
    Funade no kioku yomigaeri
    yugure o itamu kane no ne.
 
Seilei o mita.
    Ryote o age, te o awase, toho o mita.
    “Hoka wa issai nento ni nashi” Kami ni tsugeru yo ni.
 
“Te lucis ante”
    Sono kuchi kara hasse rareru kiyorakana shirabe ni
    omowazu ware o wasureta.
 
Mawari no seilei tachi subete mo
    konjiki no hibiki de showa shi
    shinko no manazashi wa tenkyu ni mukatta.
 
Kedakaki seilei no mure
    tachisukumi, aozame, tsutsumashiku
    nanika o matsu yo ni ten o aoida.
 
Futari no tenshi tachi
    hono no tsurugi o mochi
    ten no takami kara araware, orite kita.
 
Wakaba no yona midori no koromo wa hirogari
    midori no tsubasa ni utare, fukare, nabiki,
    hatameki, uzumaki.
 
Hitori wa watashi no ue ni fuyu shi
    hitori wa taigan ni nagare
    seilei tachi wa kono futari ni tsutsumareta.
 
Sono ogon no kami wa mirukotoga dekitaga
    kao no amari no kagayaki ni uchinomesare
    mega kuranda.
 
« Maria no futokoro kara kitaru tenshi tachi yo »
 

Text by Satoru Ikeda                      NHK_Children NHK Children Chorus
from The Divine Comedy: The Purgatorio Canto VIII (excerpt) by Dante Alighieri