News / Asia

Metropolitan Opera Brings More Than Just Music to Japan

A scene from Act 3 of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," taken during the Metropolitan Opera's tour to Japan, June 2011.
A scene from Act 3 of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," taken during the Metropolitan Opera's tour to Japan, June 2011.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera may not have its two biggest stars on tour in Japan, but that has not dampened the troupe’s reception in the nuclear-stricken country.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, says the cast and crew have stirred relief and celebration in Nagoya and Tokyo where they are performing this month.

“The trip is unlike any other the Metropolitan Opera has taken here because we are the first major performing arts company to come to Japan since the earthquake,”Gelb told VOA from Tokyo, referring to the March 11 quake that triggered a tsunami and caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.


Audio from Verdi’s “Don Carlo.” Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. James Levine, conductor. Sony © 1994

Other prominent acts, including the Vienna Boys Choir, the Lyon Orchestra and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, cancelled their scheduled tours of Japan following the nuclear accident.

Fears of radiation also kept the Met’s acclaimed soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Joseph Calleja at home.

The opera company brought in radiation expert David Brenner of New York’s Columbia University to discuss the possible health effects of visiting Japan so soon after the nuclear meltdown.

Brenner said there were some spikes in radiation doses in the capital shortly after the Fukushima accident, but the threat has eased. “The radiation doses in Tokyo right now are the same as they were last year,” Brennar said. “They basically returned to the same dose levels that were the case before the radiation accident.”

Despite the assurances, Gelb says it was hard to allay all concerns because of the varied media coverage on the nuclear crisis.

“They don’t always put things in context when one reads about the meltdown. They don’t also report the fact that Tokyo is okay,” he said. “So it’s understandable that those people who are prone to being anxious and nervous about things they don’t know about. And radiation’s certainly a subject that nobody knows too much about, so there was a lot of fear and anxiety.”

The Met spent four years planning the Japan tour. And after assessing the risks, Gelb scrambled to make it happen. Soprano Marina Poplavskaya and tenors Marcelo Alvarez, Rolando Villazon and Alexey Dolgov replaced the missing stars.

From left: Yonghoon Lee, Marina Poplavskaya, General Manager Peter Gelb, Principal Guest Conductor Fabio Luisi, Mariusz Kwiecien, Piotr Beczala, Barbara Frittoli, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ekaterina Gubanova, and René Pape. (photo: Koichi Miura/Metropolitan Opera)

The Metropolitan Opera’s tour has brought much needed business to Japan’s tourism industry and the theater world, which has been hard hit since the crisis.

“The crews that work backstage, which typically work together with the crews of visiting theatrical groups have basically been unemployed,” said Gelb. “So they were particularly delighted to see us and have a chance to get back to work.”

When the group arrived in Nagoya, Gelb said the entire hotel staff, from the chambermaids to the chefs, lined up along the street to wave to the company. He said the feelings of goodwill are mutual. “Almost everybody who’s supposed to be on this tour is on the tour,” he said. “And I think that everyone who’s here is absolutely thrilled, from the stagehands to members of the orchestra to the many super opera stars who have made the trip.”

Gelb said the company is keeping things in perspective.

“The inconvenience to the Met is nothing compared to the tragedy that the people of Japan have faced,” he said. “I think all the members of our company realize that if they can provide some small degree of solace to the citizens of Japan who can forget their worries for a couple of hours while they’re sitting in a performance of the Met, we’re delighted to do so.”

The Metropolitan Opera’s seventh tour of Japan ends on June 19.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid