2017.07.15

55th Osaka International Festival 2017 Bernstein's "Mass"

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L. BERNSTEIN: MASS~A Theatre Piece For Singers, Players and Dancers
*The 70th Anniversary of Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra
Friday, July 14, 2017 at 19:00, Festival Hall, Osaka
Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 14:00, Festival Hall, Osaka
Michiyoshi Inoue, director and conductor
Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra
Osaka Philharmonic Chorus
Kids Choir OSAKA
Ballet: Ju Horiuchi Ballet Project / Osaka University of Arts (Dance Course of Theatrical Arts Department)
Cast: Daisuke Oyama, Naoki Komiyama, Satomi Ogawa, Sara Kobayashi, Mai Washio, Chieko Noda, Machiko Hei, Kyoko Moriyama, Mayumi Goto, Daichi Fujiki, Gohei Kohashi, Shunsuke Suzuki, Hideki Matayoshi, Kota Murakami, Toru Kaku, Kazunori Kubo, Kei Yonashiro, Hao Zhong
Supporting Performance:Takahiro son, Kenjiro Misaka
*Music by Leonard Bernstein, libretto from the liturgy of the Roman Mass, with additional texts by Stephen Schwartz and the composer

【Message】

Bernstein wrote at the end of the score, “The Mass is ended, go in peace”. This must be a hope for the world of this genius, a warning message to the United States, the Leitmotiv of this piece, and his own determination for the “future” which will start from the next day after writing the “Mass”.
Usually some pre-recorded words are played from the tape in this piece, but this time I myself read them aloud with the microphone.

My report below is very long!!
We had two representations of the “Mass” this week, but as a matter of course, those who listened to both concerts said to me that, though everything was amazing sufficient on the first day (the 14th), the second day (the 15th) was ten times more persuasive to the minutest details. They agreed that the second day’s performance was surely monumental and the best in the history of this masterpiece.
The project was a success thanks to all who performed, all who worked at the back of the stage, and all who came to appreciate this work. I am also grateful from the bottom of my heart to all who involved from the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra!
As I hate to death intolerable flatteries that remind me of campaign mottos for election, I had never expressed openly such words of appreciation until today.
But I will repeat! I am thankful to everyone for the success of the concerts, from the less than one-year-old baby of one of the participants to Ms. Michiko Murayama, ninety-seven years old, who had founded the Osaka International Festival but could not come to the concerts this time because of being hospitalized. If the organist Mr. Ryuta Suzuki had been still alive, it would have been much easier for me to prepare everything concerning keyboard instruments.
Thanks a lot everyone, but I won’t thank God here.

We were not able to have a TV crew shoot this exceptional project which was full of the love of those concerned, because the “Mass” is still unknown and looked at with a jaundiced eye, and at the same time, it requires a huge amount of royalties. This dilemma makes me feel extremely unfortunate. I am sure that Lenny (Bernstein) must be disappointed in heaven, too.
I performed the “Mass”, not for those who are alive today and love Lenny, but for his soul which was alive in the past. Indeed, I devoted myself to embodying his nature as an artist and his honest view on humans. Artists reenacting musical pieces and those who work for arts shouldn’t confuse these two things, because possessing something doesn’t always mean loving it.
I conducted the “Mass” before, about twenty years ago by a quirk of fate. After watching the old recorded video of that concert, the director of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra proposed me to stage it in Osaka but not in Tokyo. Then later the Asahi Shimbun Association kindly accepted to be the organizer of our two concerts, considering it as a suitable project for their Osaka International Festival having a long history. I am sincerely thankful to the association for their wonderful decision.
The Osaka Philharmonic Chorus struggled with complicated irregular meters which are supremely difficult to sing. I imagine how it was laborious for the not-young members… Also, it must have been a big challenge for Akiyasu Fukushima who trained the chorus.
As for the children’s chorus which attained the greatest popularity this time, we choose all the members by audition. That’s the reason why every kid was really talented and full of originality. Thanks to this project, I could also discover the boy soprano Naoki Komiyama, twelve years old, a future star singer. It was an extremely rare experience for me!! Remember that, in general, a boy's voice is broken in a flash. Also, too young of a child couldn’t take on that much responsibility. On the other hand, a youth who already went on to his rebellious age would not fit this piece of Bernstein. Therefore, the encounter with Naoki at the best time was a thing that I can only say was by the grace of God! He was really amazing.
Also, the Cupids played by Saki and Sakura reminded me of characters from a fairy tale. Besides them, many young singers let us get a glimpse of their brilliant futures and saved this “Mass” which tends to become dark.

My stage directing ended in success. I tried to combine reality and fantasy by reflecting Bernstein himself on the main role (Catholic priest). Let’s remember that this piece was written by Bernstein who had just completed his mission as the first ever director born and being raised in US of the New York Philharmonic.
The most difficult part was the beginning, as the composer started the piece by playing recorded words in total darkness. This approach is considered unusual traditionally. I was groping for a solution and got an idea in the end of showing Bernstein himself, who was already famous composer in 1970s. I showed his pictures to Daisuke Oyama who acted both Bernstein and the priest, so that he could be made up and dressed as similar as possible to Bernstein. To tell the truth, we later found it pretty hard. I let him shave his bare and, get plastic surgery (I’m joking). Mr. Oyama sang and acted this role brilliantly. I will never forget it.
Multi-talented wonderful female singers participated in this production. I am thinking of Sara Kobayashi, Kyoko Moriyama and Mai Washio. Defying High C, Kota Murakami completely revealed his talent. Toru Taku, good at English, and Hideki Matayoshi, having a sweet voice, sang the last romantic parts. The countertenor Daichi Fujiki also showed a presence by singing a female voice part which looks back Bernstein’s youth.
recorded video of that concert, the director of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra proposed me to stage it in Osaka but not in Tokyo. Then later the Asahi Shimbun Association kindly accepted to be the organizer of our two concerts, considering it as a suitable project for their Osaka International Festival having a long history. I am sincerely thankful to the association for their wonderful decision.
The Osaka Philharmonic Chorus struggled with complicated irregular meters which are supremely difficult to sing. I imagine how it was laborious for the not-young members… Also, it must have been a big challenge for Akiyasu Fukushima who trained the chorus.
As for the children’s chorus which attained the greatest popularity this time, we choose all the members by audition. That’s the reason why every kid was really talented and full of originality. Thanks to this project, I could also discover the boy soprano Naoki Komiyama, twelve years old, a future star singer. It was an extremely rare experience for me!! Remember that, in general, a boy's voice is broken in a flash. Also, too young of a child couldn’t take on that much responsibility. On the other hand, a youth who already went on to his rebellious age would not fit this piece of Bernstein. Therefore, the encounter with Naoki at the best time was a thing that I can only say was by the grace of God! He was really amazing.
Also, the Cupids played by Saki and Sakura reminded me of characters from a fairy tale. Besides them, many young singers let us get a glimpse of their brilliant futures and saved this “Mass” which tends to become dark.

My stage directing ended in success. I tried to combine reality and fantasy by reflecting Bernstein himself on the main role (Catholic priest). Let’s remember that this piece was written by Bernstein who had just completed his mission as the first ever director born and being raised in US of the New York Philharmonic.
The most difficult part was the beginning, as the composer started the piece by playing recorded words in total darkness. This approach is considered unusual traditionally. I was groping for a solution and got an idea in the end of showing Bernstein himself, who was already famous composer in 1970s. I showed his pictures to Daisuke Oyama who acted both Bernstein and the priest, so that he could be made up and dressed as similar as possible to Bernstein. To tell the truth, we later found it pretty hard. I let him shave his bare and, get plastic surgery (I’m joking). Mr. Oyama sang and acted this role brilliantly. I will never forget it.
Multi-talented wonderful female singers participated in this production. I am thinking of Sara Kobayashi, Kyoko Moriyama and Mai Washio. Defying High C, Kota Murakami completely revealed his talent. Toru Taku, good at English, and Hideki Matayoshi, having a sweet voice, sang the last romantic parts. The countertenor Daichi Fujiki also showed a presence by singing a female voice part which looks back Bernstein’s youth.
Wearing a cowboy hat, Kei Yonashiro sang the blues music instead of acting the villain's role, his specialty. Originally from China and having strong character, Zhong Hao was in charge of the lines of a foreigner, and Satomi Ogawa acted that unique role exactly as I had expected. Gohei Kohashi suited perfectly to the young man speaking the Kansai dialect.

Motohiro Horii, who is very punctual, smoothly did the stage direction in a tenacious manner. He brought me two times the stage models. Without his efforts, I couldn’t have decided to position the brass and wind players on the elevated passageway to make more spatial margin on stage.
The cross didn’t look like a slide to the audience until the end when a boy appeared and slid down from the top part. I think this scene was particularly surprising.

Jyu Horiuchi choreographed the modern ballet style dance for the Tokyo group dancers and the theatrical style dance for the Osaka University of Arts dancers. They embodied Bernstein’s vision reflected on the subtitle, “A theater piece for singers, players and dancers”. As far as I know, our staging approach was unique in the world. I am sorry for Mr. Horiuchi because I hedged about him with many ideas of mine concerning how to feel the music, how to let dancers appear, how to dress them and how to characterize the situations.
Also, I myself choreographed the scene of the singers fighting. For the scene of the “division”, Mr. Horiuchi choreographed the dancers at the right part of the stage and I the left part.
Furthermore, I must say that Mr. Adachi, my old and respected friend, helped me a lot to elevate the artistic sense of this staging to that level. Probably because he is originally specialized in the ballet lighting, he agrees stupendously well with me!!
The neon tubes and mysterious soul shining in pale blue were created by Mitsunori Kurashige, a lighting artist living in a huge storehouse in the Miura Peninsula. I believe that those recondite objects are shown at their best in the “Mass”. Everyone keeps discussing those works’ meaning.

I am also grateful to Fumio Emori who arranged the rock band and the blues band specially for this piece in Osaka. I regret now that we couldn’t allot the bands on stage a big part of the budget because of the lack of understanding.
However, I have something to tell Bernstein!
In the world, clarinetists are not always able to play the saxophone, which is the case in US. Furthermore, it’s not international common sense that popular music musicians have a capacity of reading and understanding this complicated score with irregular meters! That means, the belief that American common sense is the same as international common sense lurked in Bernstein’s mind, too.
Mr. Bernstein, you, endowed with great talents, didn’t understand during your lifetime that not everyone was as gifted as you. That’s the reason why you sometimes clashed with other people when rehearsing orchestras. That was somehow egotistical and, in a sense, “American”.
However, the “Mass”, subjected to criticisms during his life time, is loved, performed, danced, played and delivered with emotion to audiences today. I myself have performed the complete symphonies of Shostakovich in that way, too.
AND IT WAS GOOD! AND IT WAS GOOD!
The Mass is ended, go in peace.


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ショスタコーヴィチ:交響曲第11番「1905年」
ショスタコーヴィチの魂が疾走する! 井上道義の才気が炸裂する! これぞショスタコーヴィチの真髄!

Schedule

1冊でわかるポケット教養シリーズ 指揮者の世界
第2章は井上道義の特別インタビュー「僕が指揮者になって、今も続けている理由」