Fukushima-themed opera staged in Germany

JIJI

An opera about Japan’s disaster-devastated Fukushima Prefecture has received its world premiere at an opera house in the northern German city of Hamburg.

Composed by Japanese musician Toshio Hosokawa and directed by the writer of its original story, Oriza Hirata, “Umi, Shizukana Umi” (“Stilles Meer,” “Calm Sea”) was put on stage at the Staatsoper Hamburg opera house on Sunday. The conductor is Kent Nagano, a third-generation Japanese-American who recently became musical director at the Hamburg State Opera.

The work depicts a German woman’s internal struggle after her husband and son were washed away by mammoth tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake and ruined the northeastern Japan coast on March 11, 2011. In the setting, search and rescue operations for tsunami victims were suspended due to the subsequent nuclear crisis caused by the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

After the performance, in German, the audience gave a big round of applause.

Hosokawa said in a statement posted on the opera house’s website that the tsunami and the nuclear disaster made him think again about the power of nature and arrogance of human beings. This work is dedicated to the disaster victims, he noted.

The opera is scheduled to be staged a total of five times at the opera house through Feb. 13.