Hanjo © Illustration by Marcus Shields and Patricia Westley

Yukio Mishima’s Hanjo

Composed by Toshio Hosokawa

Live Preview Performance Excerpt and Exclusive Artist Discussion with Director Luca Veggetti and Catapult Opera Founder and Conductor Neal Goren

September 14 at 6:30pm

Presented in association with NYU Skirball

Tickets Available Now at JapanSociety.org

$15 General Public / $12 Members

Join us on September 14 at Japan Society for a talk with the creative team behind the reality-bending opera Hanjo, based on Yukio Mishima’s modern noh play and reimagined by the internationally-acclaimed Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa. In advance of the work’s full US premiere at the NYU Skirball by Catapult Opera Company in late September, the Italian director Luca Veggetti and Catapult’s founder (and Hanjo conductor) Neal Goren will discuss Hosokawa’s music and the staging of his opera. The evening begins with an introduction to Mishima’s original script by Prof. Satoko Naito of the University of Turku, Finland, and culminates with live singing of the opera’s centerpiece aria.

Inspired by the long-distance love between Hanako, a geisha girl, and her young paramour Yoshio, Hanjo tells the story of Hanako’s dizzying experience when a man calling himself Yoshio finally reappears after a long absence. For Catapult Opera’s production, the inner life of each of the opera’s three characters will be expressed in movement by an analogous dancer. Classical chamber musicians from the Talea Ensemble will provide the work’s orchestral element. Hanjo expresses the fragility of the lives that we construct for ourselves when challenged by events beyond our control.

Hanjo was originally commissioned by and premiered at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2004. Since then, it has been presented at several European opera houses and Japanese concert halls. Catapult’s production is directed and choreographed by Luca Veggetti, a frequent collaborator of Hosokowa, who will be reuniting with Catapult’s Artistic Director, Neal Goren, to conduct this production. Veggetti and Goren presented the US premiere of Hosokowa’s The Raven for the first New York Philharmonic biennial in 2014 and the US stage premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Tempest Songbook in 2015. 

This event will take place on September 14 at 6:30pm at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at japansociety.org or by phone at the Japan Society Box Office, Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm at 212-715-1258. Limited free tickets to this event will be offered to patrons who have purchased tickets to Hanjo at NYU Skirball; please visit the Skirball website for more information. View Japan Society’s up-to-date visitor policies and safety protocols by clicking here.

Born in Bologna, Italy in 1963 and trained at La Scala in Milan, Luca Veggetti began his career as a choreographer and stage director in 1990. Turning his interests toward contemporary music, experimental forms, and new technologies, he has collaborated with some of today’s most important ensembles and composers. His work has been produced and presented by leading theaters, companies, and museums around the world including The Drawing Center, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and La Cité de la Musique in Paris. Notable productions include Iannis Xenakis’ Oresteia and Kaija Saariaho’s Maa at the Miller Theater in co-production with the Guggenheim’s Works & Process, a series of creations for the Martha Graham Dance Company, NOTATIONOTATIONS for the Drawing Center, Toshio Hosokawa’s operas Hanjo at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, The Raven for the first New York Philharmonic Biennial, Kaija Saariaho’s The Tempest Songbook at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Recent productions include Left-Right-Left, a co-production by the Japan Society in New York and the Yokohama Noh Theater; Iannis Xenakis’ Kraanerg for the Teatro Comunale in Bologna; Watermill, a new vision of Jerome Robbins’ iconic theater piece for the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Tanto quanto dura il soffio by Bruno Munari, a choreographic installation for the Setagaya Art Museum in Tokyo.

Toshio Hosokawa, Japan’s pre-eminent living composer, creates his distinctive musical language from the fascinating relationship between Western avant-garde art and traditional Japanese culture. His music is strongly connected to the aesthetic and spiritual roots of the Japanese arts (such as calligraphy), as well as to those of Japanese court music (such as gagaku). He gives musical expression to notions of beauty rooted in transience: “We hear the individual notes and appreciate, at the same time, the process of how the notes are born and then die: a sound landscape of continual ‘becoming’ that is animated in itself.” Born in Hiroshima in 1955, Toshio Hosokawa came to Germany in 1976, where he studied composition with Isang Yun, Brian Ferneyhough, and later, Klaus Huber. Although his initial compositions drew inspiration from the Western avant-garde, he gradually built a new musical world between East and West. In the 1980s and 1990s, Hosokawa was a regular participant at the prestigious Darmstädter Ferienkurse new music festival in Germany. He first gained widespread recognition with the 2001 world premiere of his oratorio Voiceless Voice in Hiroshima. Hosokawa has written numerous orchestral works in recent years, including After the Storm for two sopranos and orchestra on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Woven Dreams, commissioned as part of the Roche Commissions (Cleveland Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst, Lucerne Festival 2010). Circulating Ocean, premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival in 2005, has also become part of the repertoire of many orchestras. In 2013, his noh-inspired opera Matsukaze was presented as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. The organ concerto Umarmung, premiered in 2017 by Christian Schmitt and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under Jakub Hrůša, was performed by the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna at the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2018 and again at Suntory Hall in 2019. The orchestral work Uzu, premiered in 2019 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, received the Otaka Prize for the best Japanese composition of the year. Toshio Hosokawa has received numerous awards and prizes. He has been a member of the Academy of Fine Arts Berlin since 2001 and was a fellow of Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study in 2006/7 and 2008/9. In 2013/14 he was composer in residence at the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra as well as at the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra from 2019 till 2021. In 2018 he received the Japan Foundation award and recently he was awarded the Goethe Medal for his services to cultural exchange between Japan and Germany. He is artistic director of the Takefu International Music Festival and artistic director of the Suntory Hall International Program for Music Composition.

Satoko Naito teaches Japanese literature from the Heian (794-1185) through the Edo (1600-1868) periods as well as classical Japanese language. Research and teaching interests include Heian narrative fiction and nikki (memoir) literature; the reception and canonization of Heian texts in the medieval and early modern periods; print culture in the early modern period; self-writing and sexuality in the Meiji and early Taishô periods; changing notions of ‘the author’ and ‘authorship;’ and the constructions of gender, genre, and literary histories. She is currently working on a book project based on her dissertation, titled “The Making of Murasaki Shikibu: Constructing Authorship, Gendering Readership, and Legitimizing The Tale of Genji,” which analyzes the reception history of The Tale of Genji (c.1000) and considers the significance of the author icon in the canonization and popularization of the tale from the medieval period through the early modern period. Naito received her doctorate from Columbia University (2010). In October 2021, she published “Anxieties of Authorship, Critique of Readership: Mishima Yukio’s Modern Noh Play Genji Kuyō.” Japanese Language and Literature 55, no. 2. Currently, Naito is a docent of Japanese studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku, Finland.

About Japan Society

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Japan Society is the premier organization connecting Japanese arts, culture, business, and society with audiences in NYC and around the world. In over 100 years of work, we’ve inspired generations by establishing ourselves as pioneers in supporting international exchanges in arts and culture, business and policy, as well as education between Japan and the US. In 2022, Japan Society is celebrating our heritage through the 50th anniversary of our landmark building, designed by the late architect Junzo Yoshimura, with the launch of a new distinct modern logo and visual identity.  

Since the inception of Japan Society Performing Arts Program, the Program has brought 1000+ productions of and inspired by Japan to audiences in NYC and beyond through North American tours organized by Japan Society. Programs range from the traditional arts to contemporary theater, dance and music. Since the establishment of the Performing Arts Endowment in 2005, the Society also commissions non-Japanese artists to create Japan-related new works through fostering cross-cultural collaboration that has become part of its important mission.

Support for the 2022-2023 Japan Society Performing Arts Season

Lead Sponsor: MetLife Foundation. 

The season is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Major support is generously provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation and Doug and Teresa Peterson. Endowment support is provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with a leadership gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional support is provided by Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II, Dr. Jeanette C. Takamura, Estate of Alan M. Suhonen, Susan McCormac, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, Nancy and Joe Walker, Dr. John K. Gillespie, Paula S. Lawrence, Hiroko Onoyama, Lyndley and Samuel Schwab, and Nora and David Tezanos. Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society. MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception is provided by MetLife Foundation.

Program Support & Partners:

Yukio Mishima’s Hanjo is supported by Doug and Teresa Peterson; presented in association with Catapult Opera and NYU Skirball.

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