Benjamin Woodward

For Benjamin Woodward's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

'The Cunning Little Vixen' at Saito Kinen Festival

| Jun 19, 2008

"The Cunning Little Vixen" at Saito Kinen Festival

The Saito Kinen Festival continues to showcase opera from off the beaten track with a production of Leos Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen,” conducted by festival founder Seiji Ozawa. First performed in 1924 and fashioned out of a newspaper comic strip, this breezy, bucolic ...

A passion for the classics

Nov 29, 2007

A passion for the classics

Mention “Die Soldaten,” B.A. Zimmermann’s dark, uncompromising and harrowing work of 1960s modernism, and Hiroshi Wakasugi visibly brightens. It’s the first season for this highly respected conductor as artistic director of Tokyo’s New National Theater, and he’s clearly very, very pleased that he has ...

Playing to tell her tales

Oct 26, 2007

Playing to tell her tales

Storytelling lies at the heart of Japanese pianist Yu Kosuge’s art. “I loved to write, and when I was a child, I would write a story for each piece I played,” says the soft-spoken 24-year-old in English. “Back then I would imagine dances with ...

Be baffled and awed

Oct 12, 2007

Be baffled and awed

The New National Theatre, under the aegis of recently appointed director Hiroshi Wakasugi, opens its 2007/8 season with Richard Wagner’s 1845 grand Romantic opera “Tannhauser.” Though an early work in the Wagner canon, “Tannhauser” baffled and awed audiences when it was first performed and ...

Soundtrack of the summer: Seiji Ozawa

| Jun 21, 2007

Soundtrack of the summer: Seiji Ozawa

Under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, some of Japan’s top classical musicians gather each year for roughly a month of opera and orchestral concerts. The Saito Kinen Festival showcases an opera, usually something a little offbeat, and this year it’s Tchaikovsky’s “Pikovaya Dama” (“The ...

Soundtrack of the summer: Andrey Boreyko

| Jun 21, 2007

Soundtrack of the summer: Andrey Boreyko

With tickets for Italian maestro Riccardo Muti’s concerts sold out, Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko’s concert with Russian pianist and former International Tchaikovsky Competition gold medalist Boris Berezovsky is a good and by-no-means lesser alternative. In fact, it probably has the more interesting program. Most ...

The real Mozart

Feb 23, 2006

The real Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The genius, the divinely inspired child, the idiot savant, the skilled populist craftsman, the underappreciated artist in his time who died tragically young in anonymous penury. Every generation makes of him what they will; the legends abound. And 250 years after ...

Puccini's masterpiece transcends its age

Jul 3, 2005

Puccini's masterpiece transcends its age

Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” is one of most beloved operas of all time. Musically rich, dramatically taut and shamelessly wringing every last drop of sentiment from its tale of innocence betrayed, it shows Puccini at the top of his form. Yet its seductive beauty ...

The Alban Berg Quartett know Schubert inside out

May 29, 2005

The Alban Berg Quartett know Schubert inside out

The Alban Berg Quartett occupies a near-legendary position among string quartets. Their technical fluency, the beauty of their playing, the harmony of their interpretation — have left critics searching for superlatives and ensured their constant demand in recital halls around the world. Taking their ...