Conductor Kazushi Ono still remembers the first opera he attended, at the age of 10.

"My treasured ticket with its sophisticated designs got ruined," Ono says, recalling how miserable he felt when the ticket stub was torn at the entrance. Of course, this is normal procedure, but the "heartbreaking incident" made the performance all the more tragic. The opera was Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata," performed by the Fujiwara Opera at Tokyo Metropolitan Hibiya Public Hall in 1971.

"I remember that the very sad melodies prior to the first act and the third act were the same," Ono says of the performance.