Japan premier of Sibelius’ ‘Tempest’ to play in entirety


Among the events being held to mark the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Finland, a standout is the first performance in its entirety here of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ music to Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.”

Sibelius (1865-1957) created seven symphonies, as well as numerous symphonic poems, a violin concerto, incidental music for 13 plays and vocal and piano pieces. Influenced by Romantic Nationalism, and inspired by his homeland’s nature and landscape, his music has played an important role in building the country’s national identity.

“The Tempest,” completed in 1926 for a production at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, is one of the composer’s last great works. Afterwards, Sibelius restructured the 70-minute-long work into two suites, and it has rarely been heard since as a whole. Hence the upcoming concerts in Tokyo and Niigata City provide the first opportunity for audiences to hear the entire score.

Under the baton of Naoto Otomo, who has often performed and recorded Sibelius’ works, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra is collaborating with Finnish singers Helena Juntunen (soprano) as Juno, Tiina-Maija Koskela (mezzo-soprano) as Ariel, Niall Chorell (tenor) as Stephano and Petteri Salomaa (baritone) as Caliban, along with Hiroaki Otsuka (baritone) as Trinculo and the Tokyo Symphony Chorus.

Also featured are Sibelius’ best-known compositions: “Valse Triste,” “Karelia Suite” and the symphonic poem “Finlandia,” which will be performed in a special version accompanied by a chorus.

Tokyo Symphony Orchestra’s “Tokyo Opera City Series” Sibelius concert will take place at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Hatsudai on Sept. 5 at 6 p.m.; the same program will then be performed at Ryutopia Niigata-City Performing Arts Center on Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. Tickets are ¥3,000 to ¥7,000. For more details, call (044) 520-1511 or visit www.tokyosymphony.com