• Kyodo

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Kabuki actor Nakamura Ganjiro opened his Russian tour before a packed audience here Thursday at Gorky Theater.

Ganjiro, 71, still one of the top kabuki actors in Japan and named a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government, gave an impressive performance in the title role as the heroine Ohatsu in “Sonezaki Shinju” (“The Love Suicides at Sonezaki”).

The play, an 18th century classic by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, is based on a real-life tragic love story between the courtesan Ohatsu and shop clerk Tokubei. Ganjiro’s eldest son, Kanjaku, performed the role of Tokubei on Thursday.

The father-son duo received warm applause for their highly stylized performance, the first kabuki show by Shochiku Chikamatsuza Kabuki Co. in Russia since 1987.

Japan’s ambassador to Russia, Issei Nomura, attended the premiere, the highlight of a series of Japanese cultural events to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg.

“It is very rewarding to perform in Russia, a country full of theater lovers,” Nakamura Ganjiro said.

Shochiku has sent a 67-member troupe for a two-week tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Moscow run will last through Tuesday. The Chikamatsuza troupe will then travel to St. Petersburg, where it will perform until June 24.

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