All posts by Diego Pellecchia

Noh theatre scholar and practitioner.

The ‘ubiquity’ of noh. ‘Only the sound remains’

Only the sound remains, by Kaija Saariaho and Peter Sellars, is a modern opera based on two noh plays Hagoromo and Tsunemasa, which Ezra Pound rendered into English working with Ernest Fenollosa’s translations of the original Japanese texts. There are several reviews of its performances available online – for example, The Guardian or Opera News.

The article on the Asahi Shinbun mentions the ‘ubiquity’ of noh. It seems to me that what is ubiquitous is the noh ‘brand’, not the art. I have not seen the performance but from the trailer below I wonder: what is left of noh?

Funa Benkei and Kiyotsune this weekend in Matsuyama

November 3rd (‘culture day’) is coming up soon, and with it the usual Matsuyama Shimin Noh performance organized by Udaka Michishige in Matsuyama (Ehime prefecture). This year the performance will take place on the 4th instead of the 3rd, and will feature the usual recital by Kei’un-kai students.

This year’s noh is Funa Benkei in the namima-no-den variant – I will be singing in the chorus. Funa Benkei is not a particularly challenging play for the chorus, especially because it is frequently performed, hence it does not require particular memorization efforts. Having more confidence with memory will hopefully allow me to focus more on delivery.

Before Funa Benkei Udaka Norishige will perform the maibayashi excerpt from the noh Kiyotsune. If you follow this blog you will probably already know that I have a particular connection with this play as it was the very first piece of noh chant I have ever studied, and because I performed the noh in 2013 (five years ago already!). Kiyotsune does not feature an instrumental dance, but it has a rather long kuse section. Again being particularly familiar with the text will probably allow me to focus on delivery.

I will also perform a shimai, Ominameshi, for which I really need to get some more training… not so much time left for that though!

 

 

Noh theatre and videogames, again

Deigan certainly is one of noh theatre’s most perplexing mask, one of the most difficult to define because of its eerie expression and ‘human yet non-human’ features. It is in fact used for a number of different characters, from malevolent spirits to ghosts of elegant courtiers, to dragon goddesses. So much that Square Enix designers picked it up for a character (a villain of course) in one of their forthcoming videogames.

Here below is how a real deigan mask would look like.

no22-00045
Deigan 泥岩, by Otsuki Kokun

Flowers of Performance: Noh workshops in Portland

Noh workshops and performances to be held in Portland September 29 – October 2, 2018

From the University of Oregon Center for Asian and Pacific Studies website:

The Center for Asian and Pacific Studies is pleased to present four days of events on Traditional Japanese Noh Theatre, to be held at the University of Oregon, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Portland Art Museum. The events, which will include performances and workshops, are to be led by TAKEDA Tomoyuki, an active performer from one of the most prestigious schools of Noh, the Kanze School. Established in the fourteenth century, Noh is characterized by austere simplicity of performance and profoundly poetic plots. In a series of four workshops (two of which will be accompanied by costumed performance), Takeda-sensei and his troupe will cover a range of topics from history, dance and chanting to costumes and masks. Audiences will have the opportunity to take part in a dance and chanting sequence, and to learn about costumes through dressing demonstrations.

Read the whole article here.

NohPoster_09-14-18

The 4th Tatsushige no Kai: Tanikō 谷行 June 30 2018

On June 30 2018 Udaka Tatsushige will perform the noh Tanikō 谷行, a rarely performed play set in the world of shugendō, a syncretic religion fusing Buddhist beliefs with the worship of natural elements. The followers of shugendō, known as yamabushi (mountain-priests) perform austerities during their pilgrimages across the sacred mountains between the present-day Osaka and Nara prefectures.

This noh is full of action, featuring a group of yamabushi forced to sacrifice one of their young acolytes by hurling him down a valley, and the intervention of a fierce deity who coming to rescue the child.

Tanikō famously inspired Bertolt Brecht’s school operas Jasager/Neinsager.

All information on the play and on how to reserve your seat HERE.

20180630-02

— Diego Pellecchia