TERESA SHAW, mezzo soprano
TOMOKO SHIOTA, narrator
SEBASTIAN BELL, flute
LONDON SINFONIETTA VOICES
PAUL ZUKOFSKY, conductor
Hagoromo is a one-act opera based on Zeami's (1363-1443) classical Japanese Noh play, which in turn is based upon a much earlier myth.
The plot is:
a Fisherman finds (hanging from a tree-branch) the Hagoromo (the magical feather-mantle) of a female Tennin (Angel). The Angel demands the return of the Hagoromo, for without it, she can not fly back to heaven The Fisherman at first refuses to return the mantle, but agrees to do so if the Angel will dance for him, as he has never seen dance. She agrees, and with the return of the mantle, dances as she is flying to heaven, disappearing like a mountain slowly being hidden in the mist.
According to Waley (and others) "the story of the mortal who stole an angel's cloak and so prevented her return to heaven is very widely spread. It exists, with variations and complications, in India, China, Japan, the Liu Chiu Islands, and Sweden. The story of Hasan in the Arabian Nights is an elaboration of the same theme". It is one of the many attempts of myth to explain how dance, and/or music, arose on earth.
Kondo's setting was written in 1994. In this version the Fisherman is sung by a Mezzo-Soprano. In addition, there is a Narratress (female Speaker), and a Solo Flute is on-stage throughout (almost as if one of the actors). The stage version includes a Silent Dancer, as the Angel. The work is scored for a small orchestra of Flute, Oboe, 2 Clarinets, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion (1 Player on Marimba and Vibraphone), Piano, and Strings, plus a small Female Chorus which sits in the orchestra. Robert Wilson was the stage director of the premiere.
The libretto, prepared by the composer, consists of only the core parts of Zeami's original text. In Kondo's setting, the visual and aural are separated, and despite the mezzo, narrator and dancer each having a specific visual appearance, their aural aspect does not always coincide with their visual appearance, and therefore the mezzo-soprano and narrator each perform double aural roles. Thus, the mezzo-soprano (who is visually the fisherman) sings both the fisherman's text, as well as that of the angel. The narrator declaims the spoken parts of both the angel and the fisherman, while the silent dancer (visually the angel) neither sings or speaks.
For various versions of the composer's libretto, please see:
For the complete Japanese original text, as well as three different English translations (by Pound and Fenollosa; Waley; and Tyler) and other ancillary material, please see:
For information regarding the London Sinfonietta, please see www.londonsinfonietta.org.uk
A NOTE ON THE EXTENDED SILENCES BETWEEN MOVEMENTS:
The score contains silences separating the various sections of the opera. These silences are intended both to provide time for Robert Wilson's stage action, as well as for musical- architecture concerns, and the durations of these silences are precisely specified by the composer. These silences are included in this recording so as to better reflect the aural impression one would receive upon hearing the work staged, but we have given each of these silences a separate track on the CD, so that the more impatient listener can skip over them, if such is their desire.
written under commission from the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and premiered there June 13, 1994
Recorded March 25, 2002 at Abbey Road Studio 2, London, England
Edited, mixed and mastered by Paul Zinman at SoundByte Productions, Inc., NYC
All edit choices: Paul Zukofsky
London Sinfonietta Voices
Paul Zukofsky, conductor