The sound of the temple bell of "Yashagaike (Demon Pond)" will ring for the first time at the New National Theatre, Tokyo (NNTT) — but it's the bell's silence that will reverberate for the characters of this new Japanese-language opera.

The story of "Yashagaike" was first told in a play by Japanese author Kyoka Izumi (1873-1939) in 1913. "It is the story of a bell ... and a warning from Kyoka," says Tatsuji Iwata, the opera's director. He believes the author meant "Yashagaike" to be a cautionary tale against a wane in generosity and in the traditional sense of respect toward nature amid Japan's increasing militarization and materialism a century ago. "I think Kyoka's warning is still appropriate today," Iwata adds.

"It is a good piece of entertainment," says Rick Broadaway, an American professor of English at Kanazawa Gakuin University. "Romance, fantastic legends, monsters, a crazy sadistic mob, a love-sick dragon trapped in a pond, a double suicide — and at the end, an apocalyptic flood. Who could ask for more in a story?"