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Tokyo Bunka Kaikan 55th Anniversary & 150 Years of Friendship between Belgium and Japan
Opera “House of the Sleeping Beauties” [Japan premiere]
Date    Saturday, 10 December 2016 15:00-
Sunday, 11 December 2016 15:00-
Venue    Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Main Hall
Bassed on the novel    Yasunari Kawabata
Music    Kris Defoort
Libretto    Guy Cassiers, Kris Defoot, Marianne Van Kerkhoven
Conductor    Patrick Davin
Director    Guy Cassiers
Choreographer    Sibi Larbi Cherkaoui
Artists    The Old Man (Barinote): Omar Ebrahim
The Women (Soprano): Katrien Baerts
The Old Man (Actor): Kyozo Nagatsuka
Madam (Actress): Mieko Harada
The Sleeping Beauty (Dancer): Kaori Ito
The Sleeping Beauties (Chorus): Yoko Hayashi, Chihiro Hara, Megumi Shiozaki, Megumi Yoshimura
Kris DefootGuy CassiersPatrick DavinSibi Larbi Cherkaoui
Omar EbrahimKatrien BaertsKyozo NagatsukaMieko HaradaKaori Ito
Chihiro HaraYoko HayashiMegumi YoshimuraMegumi Shiozaki
Orchestra    Tokyo Geidai Sinfonietta
Set Drsigner    Enrico Bagnoli, Arjen Klerkx
Lightning Designer    Enrico Bagnoli
Costume Designer    Tim Van Steenbergen
Starge Derector    Takahiro Sugahawa
Concept    After the success of their first opera The Women Who Walked Into Doors (2001), the composer Kris Defoort and the producer Guy Cassiers are now working on their next project. Its starting point is the novel by the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata House Of The Sleeping Beauties (1961) for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.
The novel tells the story of old Eguchi in a strange and tender brothel, where elderly men can spend the night and snuggle up against the warm bodies of very young girls drugged by sleeping pills. It is the story of farewell, old age and death.
While reading this pacified elegy, Kris Defoort immediately heard music notes. The voice as an instrument, will be essential in this opera. A choir of four female voices will describe the bodies of the young sleeping girls, a soprano will sing what Eguchi does and thinks, as well as descriptions of nature, which have an important place in this story. The role of the old man will be sung by a baritone: he will express Eguchi’s first impressions of the young girls and how they evoke memories of women from his past. The room will thus become a space for the voice and a space for lyricism.
Every time Eguchi visits the brothel, before entering the room, he starts a conversation with the madam. An actor and actress will perform these down-to-earth dialogues on everyday events. Inside and outside, sung and spoken: two melancholic worlds, quite different in colour, intensity and emotions.
Text by Marianne Van Kerkhoven
Synopsis    First Night
The brothel-keeper formally forbids the old man from waking up the young girl, before giving him the key to her room. He enters, watches the young girl sleeping in the nude, and lies by her side. The odour of her chest opens the door to one of his first memories: that of his own daughters when they were babies, then the very first girl he ever made love to.

Second Night
The old man asks the madam just how far the clients of the house are allowed to go: ‘To lie next to the young sleeping girls’ she answers, indicating that the young girl waiting for him tonight is less experienced than the one from the night before.
The choir glorifies the new young girl. The desire to break the rules of the house starts to titillate the old man. He tries to wake the young girl by shaking her and trashes about like mad, until he discovers the sign of her virginity. He asks himself what horror he would inflict on this young girl if he deflowered her. He is reminded of his youngest daughter, in all her pure maturity. The melody of this young girl’s body is that of life and eternal rest. He remembers a woman with whom he spent two unforgettable nights many years ago. Was she his last woman? Again rises in him the wish to do something horrible to this young girl, like strangle her. But in front of a young nude beauty, an old man cannot but cry. He too would like to sleep for eternity.

Third Night
During his third visit, the old man hints to someone who might have died in the brothel, and asks the madam why the body of that man was taken out during the night. If that happened to him, he would not want his body to be removed. The madam keeps quiet, hands him the key, and tells his that this time there are two young girls awaiting him. He examines the taller of the two and with his handkerchief wipes her sweating body. This brushing takes him back to the faraway memory of having removed the red lipstick of a young girl. He then turns to the second girl: ‘Is she the last women of my life?’ Another memory comes to him: in a garden full of flowers, his mother welcomes him and his young bride. Mother: his first woman. The image of his mother melts into that of her death. He is suddenly torn from his daydream when he realises that the tallest girl is no longer breathing. The madam arrives and lifts the girl up. ‘It is not possible that she is dead. Go back to sleep’, she says as she takes away the body. The old man remains there and, desperate, looks at the body of the other young girl.
Text by Marianne Van Kerkhoven
Ticket Price    S 13,000 yen / A 10,000 yen / B 8,000 yen / C 5,000 yen / D 3,000 yen
*Reserved seats
Booking Opens    Saturday, 4 June 2016
Ticket Purchase    Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Box Office
Opening hours 10:00-19:00

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