Conductor Seiji Ozawa wins Grammy Award for best opera recording

Kyodo, Staff Report

Conductor Seiji Ozawa won the Grammy Award for best opera recording Monday in Los Angeles.

Ozawa’s recording is of a performance of Maurice Ravel’s “L’Enfant et Les Sortileges” (“The Child and the Spells”) in August 2013 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, by the Saito Kinen Orchestra as part of its festival. The recording was released internationally last August, making it eligible for this year’s awards.

“I am very happy and honored that we produced this piece. I would like to share this joy with all of them,” Ozawa, 80, said in a statement released Tuesday by the executive committee of the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, referring to members of the Saito Kinen Orchestra.

The committee said it is Ozawa’s first Grammy after having been nominated eight times.

Ozawa is known for his work in and out of Japan, which include conducting some of the world’s top orchestras. He was music director at the Boston Symphony Orchestra for about 30 years and was also music director at the Vienna State Opera.

Ozawa was not the only Japanese up for Grammy praise. “The King and I,” a Broadway production starring actor Ken Watanabe, was nominated for best musical theater album but lost to the popular “Hamilton.”

Watanabe, 56, appeared in “The King and I” in New York last year and the album includes “Shall We Dance?” sung by him and actress Kelli O’Hara. He recently announced that he would be returning to the role on March 17 after having undergone endoscopic surgery for stomach cancer in Japan.

Past Japanese recipients of Grammys included composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who received the award in 1989 for scoring the movie, “The Last Emperor.”

The awards are given out by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and are considered the top honors in the U.S. music business.