FEBRUARY 2008

2 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza), 2 in Fukuoka (Hakataza) and 1 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 1 ~ 25 February 2008 (Nigatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Ono no T˘fű Aoyagi Suzuri

Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Kurumabiki)

Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Seki no To

Kanadehon Chűshingura
(Gion Ichiriki Jaya)

Evening

Kotobuki Soga no Taimen

K˘j˘

Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki (Kumagai Jin'ya)

Shunky˘ Kagami Jishi

Casting

Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura Fukusuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Somegor˘

Comments

This February program commemorates the 26th anniversary (27th memorial service) of the passing away of Matsumoto Haku˘. The stars of this program are his two sons Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and Nakamura Kichiemon.

  • Ono no T˘fű: Ono no T˘fű is famous as one of the greatest calligraphers in the history of Japan and legend has it that he was inspired by the sight of a frog jumping onto a tall willow tree in the rain. This image has made it onto a hanafuda card and was a stock story of pre-war moral education. This month there is a very rare performance of a play that shows Ono no T˘fű not only as a great calligrapher, but also as a powerful fighter. After elegant court noble Ono no T˘fű (Nakamura Baigyoku) witnesses this scene, he fights with Daroku (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) a red-faced warrior like a sum˘ wrestler. The two unlikely combatants are evenly matched and this fight is an omen of disturbances in the land and the two joining forces to bring peace.
  • Kurumabiki: this short but energetic play is a showcase for the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The brothers Ume˘maru (Onoe Sh˘roku) and Sakuramaru (Nakamura Kinnosuke) are retainers of the exiled aristocrat Sugawara Michizane. They try to take revenge on Fujiwara Shihei, the man who falsely accused their lord, but are confronted by their other brother, Matsu˘maru (Nakamura Hashinosuke) who is a retainer of the villain Shihei. The two try to tear apart Shihei's carriage but are stopped by Matsu˘maru and the powerful glare of Shihei (Nakamura Karoku).
  • Seki no To:
    (The Snowbound Barrier)
    A snow-covered barrier decorated by a mysteriously blooming cherry tree provides the background for the larger-than-life story of a traitorous aristocrat disguised as a barrier guard and the beautiful woman, actually a supernatural spirit in disguise, that will defeat him. Nakamura Kichiemon, Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Nakamura Fukusuke star in what is considered to be one of the greatest Kabuki dance-dramas.
  • Gion Ichiriki Jaya: "Chűshingura" is one of the most popular plays in the theatre and shows a true event when forty-seven masterless samurai avenged the death of their lord by killing his enemy. The seventh act is one of the most popular and shows the leader of the vendetta Yuranosuke as he is hiding his intention to avenge his lordĺs death by pretending to be only interested in pleasure, but also encountering key figures on his side and the side of the enemy. Yuranosuke (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) spends his days and nights in the pleasure quarters of Ky˘to in an effort to make their lordĺs enemy, Moron˘, believe he is not planning a vendetta. His acting is so good that even men in his own group believe he has given his life up to pleasure. Moron˘ is not so easily convinced, though, and has sent spies, including a former retainer of their late lord, En'ya Hangan, to find Yuranosuke's true intentions. Okaru (Nakamura Shibajaku), the wife of one of the retainers is now a courtesan at the Ichiriki Teahouse, unaware that her husband is dead. Okaru's brother Heiemon (Ichikawa Somegor˘), a servant in the Hangan household, has also come to the teahouse and the interaction of these characters becomes a matter of life and death and ends with Yuranosuke preparing to lead the vendetta.
  • Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship. In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style of Jűr˘. This month features a cast headed by Living National Treasure Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as Kud˘ and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as Gor˘ and Nakamura Hashinosuke as Jűr˘.
  • K˘j˘: the close relationship between the actors and the audience is shown by these stage announcements, lavish ceremonies to commemorate various important events. In this case, all the stars of the cast assemble to remember the late Matsumoto Haku˘. Featuring Living National Treasure Nakamura Jakuemon.
  • Kumagai Jin'ya: this play is a dramatization of the clash between the Genji general Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane and the Heike warrior Taira no Atsumori at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani, one of the most famous passages of the epic "Tales of the Heike". In the Kabuki version, on the cryptic orders of the Genji leader Yoshitsune, Kumagai hides the enemy warrior Atsumori and has his own son take the warrior's place. On the battlefield, Kumagai has to kill his own son in Atsumori's place. Things become worse when his wife Sagami and Atsumori's mother Fuji-no-Kata arrive at his camp. In the highlight of the play, he tells them the story of his mortal battle with Atsumori, keeping Atsumori's well-being and his own sacrifice a secret. He then shows the head of Atsumori for inspection by his leader to see if he has interpreted his orders correctly. This performance stars Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Kumagai, with Living National Treasure Nakamura Shikan as Kumagai's wife Sagami, Nakamura Kaishun as Fuji-no-Kata, Nakamura Baigyoku as Yoshitsune and Ichikawa Danshir˘ as Midaroku.
  • Kagami Jishi: one of the most important dances for onnagata female role specialists and is an audience favorite. The maidservant Yayoi performs an auspicious lion dance for the Sh˘gun in his opulent palace, but she gradually finds herself under the control of the lion spirit. In the second half of the dance, the lion spirit itself appears and performs its crazed dance among peonies and fluttering butterflies. Starring Ichikawa Somegor˘ as both Yayoi and the spirit of the lion.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 5 ~ 26 February 2008 (Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Tokubetsu Buy˘ K˘en)
    Program

    Renjishi

    Ky˘ganoko Musume Ninin D˘j˘ji

    Casting

    Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Ukon

    Comments

  • Renjishi: 2 entertainers dance a tale of the legendary shishi or lion-like spirits that live at the foot of a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a comic interlude with 2 Buddhist pilgrims. Then, the shishi themselves appear and perform their dance with wild shaking of their long manes. The dance shows a parent shishi forcing his cub to undergo harsh training in order to grow up strong. This theme is often associated with the training a parent actor gives his son. This performance features Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the role of the parent shishi and his son Onoe Ukon in the role of the cub.
  • Ninin D˘j˘ji: a beautiful young woman dances under cherry blossoms at a dedication ceremony for a temple bell. She dances the many aspects of a woman in love, but is actually the spirit of a serpent, driven to destroy the bell out of jealousy. In addition to being the most famous of all Kabuki dances, "Musume D˘j˘ji" is considered to be the pinnacle of the art of the onnagata female role specialist. Band˘ Tamasabur˘, whose beauty and artistic genius is renowned throughout the world, will give his definitive performance of this dance in a special double version together with young onnagata star Onoe Kikunosuke. This performance includes the bombastic oshimodoshi finale, with Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the role of the demon-queller.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Hakataza (Fukuoka)
    Dates 1 ~ 23 February 2008 (Nigatsu Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Tokaiya
  • Funayagura
  • Daimotsu no Ura
  • Takatsuki

    Dango Uri

    Evening

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Kurumabiki)

    Narukami

    Kumo no Ito Azusa no Yumihari

    Casting

    Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Shid˘, Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘, Nakamura Kikaku

    Comments

  • Tokaiya/Daimotsu no Ura:
    (Tokaiya Inn and Daimotsu Bay)
    Yoshitsune (Ichikawa Kamejir˘) books passage on a boat to Kyűshű, but the captain is actually Taira no Tomomori (Nakamura Shid˘), a general of the Heike clan that Yoshitsune helped to defeat. Tomomori was supposedly killed by Yoshitsune in the final battle of the war, but in this play, Tomomori is shown as surviving, living in disguise with the child emperor Antoku and his nursemaid (Nakamura Shichinosuke). Tomomori uses the opportunity to try to get his revenge on Yoshitsune but is defeated again. Finally Tomomori holds a giant anchor and plunges into the sea.
  • Takatsuki: in this relatively modern dance-comedy adapted from the style of classical Ky˘gen farces, the servant Jir˘kaja (Nakamura Kantar˘) is ordered by his lord to buy a takatsuki, which is a kind of ceremonial sake cup on a stand. Jir˘kaja does not understand his lord's orders and is persuaded by a fast-talking geta clog salesman (Nakamura Shichinosuke) to buy a pair of clogs instead, thinking that this is the stand for which he was sent. After drinking a good amount of sake, he brings his purchase to the lord and responds to the lord's anger with a dance on the clogs, a virtuoso routine inspired by tap dancing, showing off the dancing skills of Nakamura Kantar˘.
  • Dango Uri:
    (The Dumpling Peddlers)
    the mortar and pestle used for pounding rice cakes and dumplings are a symbol of a happily married couple. This short, lively dance shows a couple peddling dumplings with a series of songs and dances. Starring Kataoka Ainosuke and Ichikawa Kamejir˘ in the roles of the husband and the wife.
  • Kurumabiki: this short scene shows the three brothers that dominate the drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami", each with a distinctive personality. Sakuramaru and Ume˘maru have been rendered masterless by Kan Sh˘j˘'s exile. The third brother Matsu˘maru serves the villain Shihei, who is responsible for the downfall of Kan Sh˘j˘. Sakuramaru and Ume˘maru try to destroy Shihei's carriage but are stopped by Matsu˘maru and the magical glare of Shihei. Finally the brothers agree to suspend their disputes until they all meet at their father's seventieth birthday party. The performance stars Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Kantar˘ and Ichikawa Kamejir˘ in the roles of Matsu˘maru, Ume˘maru and Sakuramaru.
  • Narukami: one of the most popular and universally appealing plays in the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection of plays featuring the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The holy man Narukami (Kataoka Ainosuke) is angry at the Imperial Court and has taken refuge in the mountains where he has imprisoned inside a waterfall the dragon that brings rain, bringing a severe drought to the country. Princess Taema (Nakamura Shichinosuke) is sent by the Imperial Court to try to seduce Narukami, destroying his magical powers and release the rain. When he finds that he has been betrayed, anger transforms Narukami into a Thunder God.
  • Kumo no Ito: this spectacular hengemono is about the warlord Minamoto Raik˘, who is confined to bed with illness in his palace. His devoted retainers are on night watch. The spirit of a spider, which has caused Raik˘'s illness in the first place, tries to enter the palace and hopes to destroy Raik˘. The spirit of this evil spider transforms itself in different people: a tea-bringing young servant girl, a medicine peddler, a shinz˘ and a zat˘ expert in sendai j˘ruri. At the end, this spirit appears as the beautiful and gorgeous keisei Usugumodayű, who sneaks in Raik˘'s sleeping room and tries to seduce him. Fortunately for Raik˘, his retainers can intervene in the nick of time and defeat the spider, which furiously throws out streamers of long, sticky web-like threads. Starring Ichikawa Kamejir˘ in the 6 roles of this hengemono. Featuring Nakamura Kantar˘ in the role of Minamoto Raik˘. featuring also Nakamura Kikaku and Nakamura Shid˘ as the shitenn˘ Sakata Kintoki and Usui Sadamitsu.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website, except "Kumo no Ito"

     
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