Opera "Yoritomo" by Villagers


Prof. Yukifumi Murakami showed marvelous conducting !!

Yukifumi Murakami
On April 12 (Sat) and 13 (Sun), 1997, the opera "Yoritomo" was held as a part of the opening ceremony of Nirayama Jidai Gekijo. Nirayama Jidai Gekijo was constructed to promote cultural activities of the villagers in Nirayama-cho.

The audition of staff and cast was given in November 1995, and the audition of orchestra players and the soloists was given in January 1996. They started practice from February, and finally reached the honorable day. 200 villagers in total participated in this opera as a volunteer.

The story described a samurai Yoritomo's life in Nirayama before the battle against the Heike, as including love with 2 women, Yaehime and Masako.

The orchestra consisted of 30 players made full use of both western and Eastern musical instruments such as piano, clarinets, flutes, cellos, violins, koto, shamisen, drums and Niibori Method original guitars. Their performance showed an excellent and mysterious harmony.

Takeru Takei (Yoritomo)
Sakiko Umehara (Yaehime)
Beautiful but powerful harmony of the chorus group consisted of 50 people impressed the audience so much. Also, colorful costumes, excellent stage effects and sound effects put enthusiasm into the audience.

The opera "Yoritomo" which lasted for 2 hours was finished in a great applause. In a curtain call, every cast including the producer Mr. Hiroshi Kouno, the composer Ms. Yumiko Kato and the conductor Prof. Yukifumi Murakami appeared on the stage. They ended the successful opera gathering with a song of Nirayama-cho. This event must be the unforgettable memory not only for the audience but the staff and cast, and surely would be recorded in the history of Nirayama-cho forever.

Hiroshi Kouno (center)
Yumiko Kato (right)
Yukifumi Murakami (left)

After the stage

Producer, Hiroshi Kouno

(after returning from Shanghai in China, he came up to Tokyo in 1944. While he was a student of Waseda University, he met a famous TV program writer, Yukio Aoshima (the Governor of Tokyo as of 1997) and entered TV field. He produced lots of TV programs that almost all Japanese know.)

When the Opera "Yoritomo" was finished, I really felt "I've produced an excellent stage". I forgot that everyone was volunteers and armatures, and I was just moved by this opera's high quality and perfection. It is difficult to feel satisfaction like this even if I work with professional people.

When I had an offer of this opera, I was confused. I wondered armatures really could play an opera. There were only a few people who had experiences to appear on stage. Most of them only had experiences to sing to Karaoke. Moreover, setting, costumes, makeup, sound effects and stage effects would be done by all armatures. When I heard even the orchestra would be formed by armatures, I felt it was definitely impossible.

But, this great armature group did it perfectly! They had a thing that professional people didn't have. It is that "Enthusiasm". Professional people prepare for the stage with their daily practice and accumulated experience. But what they did was only a practice and a practice. Their hard practice was supported by their plenty of enthusiasm, and it raised their opera was worth to the professional works. I believe that "Faith will move mountains" is really the saying for them. Of course, there were some troubles in human relationships because of their anxious and discrepancy in their opinion. But their enthusiasm overcame such troubles.

The script and music were really excellent. And I want to make special mention of Prof. Murakami's conducting. I can say that this opera was completed with his tact.

I sincerely send the words of appreciation and applause to everyone who participated in this event. I was so moved by your enthusiasm.

Your "sound" and "chorus" still remain in my ears and have made every song and music I had known away. Everyone, thank you very much.

Opera "Yoritomo" is worth calling a "synthetic art" completely created by the villagers of Nirayama-cho. Please keep your eyes on this wonderful Nirayama Jidai Gekijo producing moving and enjoyable stages one after another.

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