Critical praise for Toshio Hosokawa’s haunting new opera: “A requiem that gives mourning a voice to lend the work a power and impact all its own” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). “Tremendously effective” (Stern). “Nagano conducts with penetrating clarity (…) the singers are inspired” (Die Welt).
From the Hamburger Staatsoper, one of the most acclaimed theatrical events of recent years: Stilles Meer (Silent Sea), by Japan’s most important living composer, dedicated to the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Hosokawa’s opera draws on the Noh play Sumidagawa (Sumida River), about a mother’s overhwelming grief on the death of her son, and Mori Ōgai’s book Maihime (The Dancing Girl), about an ill-fated German-Japanese love affair. The production is staged by the celebrated Japanese director-playwright Oriza Hirata.
“This is Kent Nagano’s first world premiere in his new role as Hamburg’s music director (…) The orchestra plays for him with delicate precision. Susanne Elmark sings with clarity and warmth. Bejun Mehta infuses his lines with affectingly bittersweet melancholy. Mihoko Fujimura brings a necessary note of earthy humanity as the opera’s Brangäne” (Financial Times).
The opera’s composer, Toshio Hosokawa, who also fashioned the libretto, has said: “The 2011 Tôhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the Fukushima nuclear plant incident unleashed by it, have forced me again to consider the power of nature and human arrogance. My music is born out of a deep correspondence with nature.
“There’s a scene in the opera when the people go to the seashore with lanterns and give the lights back to the sea. This ritual illustrates our belief that the human soul comes from the sea and returns to it after death. But if this sea isn’t clean any more, where can we return to? I was in Fukushima and saw the deserted towns and cities. I’ll never forget it. Now we want to turn a blind eye, but we must see what has happened. I make music out of my need for healing, spiritual salvation. In the opera, the sad mother sings and experiences healing. The audience can also experience this spiritual healing through the music.”