World premiere: 4 March 2008, Lyon
Opera National de Lyon
Conductor: Peter Eötvös
Director: Ushio Amagatsu
Libretto: Mari Mezei, based on the diary of Lady Sarashina, Year 1008, Japan
English translation: Ivan Morris
One thousand years ago a woman in japan wrote a book, which survived the centuries and it is now one of the early Japanese classics.
The book is usually known as Sarashina Nikki. Lady Sarashina herself never gave the book any such title. Like most literary works of the period, it was named by subsequent copyist. Sarashina is a mountainous district in central Japan, it is not mentioned a single time in the book, but there is an indirect allusion to the place in one of the author’s last poems. Nikki is usually translated “diary”. But this book will show that it is no daily record of events but a book in which the material has been deliberately selected and shaped to reveal certain significant aspects of a woman’s life.
4. Dream with the Cat / Requiem
5. The Moon
6. Mirror – dream
7. Dark Night
In the opera, Lady Sarashina narrates her life. In her diary, she writes about her love of Japanese nature and landscapes, describes the sites she visits, the pilgrimages, dreams and monologues about life and death. All the other roles are portrayed by three other singers, the Vocal Trio.
The mysterious vagueness of dreams are conveyed by the transcendent, expressive tones of solo instruments and singers. Dominated by whispers, whooshing sounds and blurred voices, the nine tableaux of this “talking opera” introduce us to an intimate world.