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The New National Theatre in Tokyo broadcasts Dai Fujikura’s latest opera free online.

Today, Friday 28 January, the el New National Theatre of Tokyo (NTNT) begins to offer on its website the online broadcast of the opera A Dream of Armageddon, by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura (Osaka, 1977), which can be seen free of charge, without the need to register, on the website of the Tokyo cultural institution for a month, until 28 February.

A Dream of Armageddon is the third opera by Fujikura, a London-based composer. It premiered at the NTNT Opera House on 15 November 2020, but the performance now available online is the one recorded three days after its world premiere, on 18 November, with tenor Peter Tantsits and Wagnerian bass Seth Carico. The work is an operatic adaptation of the science fiction short story A Dream of Armageddon, written by H.G. Wells and published in 1901. The poet Harry Ross, a long-time collaborator of Fujikura, wrote the libretto, while the stage production was directed by American director Lydia Steier and the musical direction was by the artistic director of the New Tokyo National Theatre, Kazushi Ono.

Fujikura composed the opera before we knew about the pandemic. However, a text by Dai Fujikura explaining its genesis could already be read in the handbill: “This opera is out of this world as it is a dream, but it is also incredibly relevant to today. It’s like a mirror.
When ONO Kazushi emailed me out of the blue, asking to commission my 3rd opera for full chorus and symphony orchestra, he asked for a story with contemporary relevance.
I thought that H.G. Wells’ short story was a perfect grist for the work.
The story, written well before the first and second world wars, is about a totalitarian world at war which is described through a conversation between strangers on a train.
I was immediately hooked by this story, as for 20 years, my librettist collaborator and I have wanted to make an opera starting from a scene on a commuter train!
We never made that opera, not only because we were 20-year old’s who had no possibility of a commission, but also because we couldn’t fully decide what would happen after the initial train-conversation.
Now I have an offer, AND the short story starts from a train conversation which turns into the story of a dream which is oddly prescient.
In this work the chorus changes from a train of commuters into a bloodthirsty army. The chorus predicts a possible future for us all…
All of the dramatic scenes move in and out of a dreamscape. You’re never sure what is fact and what is imagined. There’s a futuristic moving corridor, and future music in a dance hall which is, according to H.G. Wells, indescribable. Dynamic characters inhabit this future dream world, and their emotional, political views are sung out over a lyrical story line.
It had to be an opera. It had to be a dream, one from which I hope we wake up”.

© Photograph by Yuko Moriyama/otocoto, downloaded from Dai Fujikura’s website.