It's all as stylised and traditional as a Noh play
I developed a project--a kind of proposition for a piece of theatre--which overlaid the narrative of a Japanese Noh play
, Eboshi-ori, and the narrative of the evolution of Moore's sculpture.
Co-produced by American Opera Projects (producer and commissioner of new operas since 1988) and BAM, and co-developed with ICS (whose artistic director is multi-award-winning flutist Claire Chase), this version of the Noh play
"Hagoromo" is Michalek's inspired response to reading a translation of it by American poet Ezra Pound.
This is the overture to the Noh play
on which the opera is based.
Corresponding to the structural pattern of rituals and the type of characters as described above are three ways in which a ghost/spirit may appear in a Noh play
(Starling's piece was originally commissioned by the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, which owns a smaller, preliminary version of Moore's sculpture, titled Atom Piece IWorking Model for Nuclear Energy/, 1964-65.) Taking up the sixteenth-century Japanese Noh play
Eboshi-ori (a tale of disguise and falsification of identity) as a narrative armature, Starling's installation weaves a mesmerizing tale of art, science, popular culture, and Cold War geopolitics with a cast of characters variously obvious (Moore, Fermi), surprising (uranium-mining magnate/art collector Joseph H.
It includes a rare performance of Noh Grandmasters from the Kanze and Komparu Schools of Noh who will dance their school's interpretation of a Shimai (Noh Dance) from the Noh play
Hagoromo (The Robe of Feathers).
While Yeats fell for Michio's approximations of Japanese dances, Pound was attracted by the less polished, but perhaps more authentic' dances that Kume demonstrated in London and Paris, (6) and admitted that Kume "knew something of Noh that no mere philologist can find out from a text book." (7) As Miyake, Kodama, and Teele put it, Kume's performance was crucial for Pound in order "to realize that a Noh play
is not merely good Imagist poetry, but an opera." (8)
It was followed by Britten's Curlew River, which can roughly be described as a Japanese Noh play
transmuted to a Fenland abbey.
A Noh play
often presents a moment when these attachments can be resolved.
Space is at a premium in Tokyo and greenrooms almost non-existent; the black-suited, white-shirred salarymen may have thought that four of the principals were rehearsing and the fifth timing a scene from a play--a Noh play
, maybe, whose purpose is to persuade the audience to accept the inevitability of death.
The importance of Noh drama to Ezra Pound's poetry, and especially to his Cantos, has long been acknowledged and has previously been approached from a variety of perspectives: focusing on the sources and accuracy of the translations in 'Noh' Or Accomplishment; debating the degree of Pound's understanding of the genre and the individual plays; tracing the references to specific Noh plays
in the Cantos; and even arguing that the Cantos is structured around the organizing principles of Noh drama and that The Pisan Cantos can be read as a Noh play