Wednesday 31. Jan. 2018, 7.30 pm - 9.10 pm |
Introduction at 6.50 pm
A hill. The view broadens. The sea. Claudia stands here often recently, ever since her husband Takashi and her son Max died. Lanterns bobbing on the sea for the souls of the dead mean: everybody lost somebody in the tsunami. Claudia’s former boyfriend, the father of her son, entreats her: “Just face reality.” However, her reality are the dead whom the sea has never released – any search was prevented by the need for evacuation. A ritual is meant to allow Claudia to see the soul of her dead child, for she cannot set him free. However, the image disintegrates in her arms. “Let us go home, each to our own home,” she says. To Toshio Hosokawa, nature is reflected in audible symbolic forms. Thus, each tone, each silence holds spiritual evidence. As in Voiceless voice in Hiroshima, Japanese history provides the inspiration for his compositions – in this case, the atomic catastrophe in Fukushima.
Director: Oriza Hirata
Set Designer: Itaru Sugiyama
Costume Designer: Aya Masakane
Lighting Designer: Daniel Levy
Dramaturgy: Janina Zell
In German with German and English subtitles
Stilles Meer (Silent Sea) was commissioned by the Hamburg State Opera with support from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and the Foundation for the Support of the Hamburg State Opera.
The production was supported in cooperation with the Tokyo University of the Arts.
The sea coast bordering on the prohibited area around “Fukushima 1”, not far from the nuclear power plant.
The villagers, among them the fisherman Taro and his friend Hiroto, gather together for the “Ohigan” ceremony: On the equinox they float lanterns on the sea, go to the cemetery and commemorate the dead together. “Higan” is the far shore, to which the souls of the dead are released.
Claudia, a German ballet teacher who has lived in Japan for many years, lost her husband, Takashi, and her son, Max, in the catastrophe of Fukushima. She can accept the death of her husband, but, however, not that of her son. On the day of the “Ohigan” ceremony she encounters her former lover, Stephan, Max’s father. Since Claudia left him and moved to Japan with their son he has lost contact to Max. Stephan has travelled to Japan in order to comprehend his son´s death and to persuade Claudia to return to Germany. But Claudia is adamant about staying in Japan. She sings a verse from the Noh play Sumidagawa (On the Sumida River).
Haruko, the sister of Claudia’s husband, talks with Stephan about the situation after the catastrophe: the lost bodies of Takashi and Max and the requirement of wearing a protective suit during the search, since the radioactive contamination is strong on the beach. She explains to him, also, that the play Sumidagawa is about a mother’s search for her lost child.
Haruko and Stephan implore Claudia to accept reality, acknowledge the death of her son and return home to Germany. Claudia, however, responds: “I can’t see it, this reality! We fight with a reality that we can’t see.” She describes the inconceivable scenes immediately after the tsunami, tells about the orders to evacuate, which prevented the search for the missing, and calls on them to: “See the reality that you can’t see!”
In order to change Claudia’s mind, Haruko suggests that they perform the play Sumidagawa together. She hopes that Claudia will recognize her own situation and let go of her son: In the last scene of the Noh play, the dead child appears to his mother before he vanishes forever.
Claudia joins in the singing and calls to Buddha. But instead of Max’s spirit, Miyuki appears, Claudia’s little ballet student.
Until last, Claudia cannot accept the death of her son. She says that everyone should go home, each one to his own home.
Translation: Mark Bruce