Marie-Antoinette – a Noh theater creation
8 October 2019
8 October 2019 8.00 pm
+33 1 70 23 01 31 | Tickets available soon
Minoru IV UMEWAKA is among the greatest and most daring representatives of today’s Noh. His innovative vision has revitalized the classical art of Noh.
Born in 1948, Minoru IV (previously named Rokuro Gensho then Minoru Gensho) first trod the boards at age three. Not content to master the traditional repertoire, Minoru IV has revived old Noh plays, staged new ones and presented this 600-year-old art form to a larger public in Japan and abroad.
Running time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
MARIE-ANTOINETTE, THE QUEEN FASCINATED BY ROSES – CONTEMPORARY NOH CREATION
The creators of the production
Modern Noh Marie-Antoinette was written by the scenarist/director Shinji UEDA, who has been particularly prominent since the phenomenal success of The Rose of Versailles (performed by the Takarazuka Revue for an audience of over 5 million).
The co-staging and composition of the songs are by one of the greatest figures of the traditional performing arts, Minoru IV UMEWAKA, a Living National Treasure of Japan and member of the Japan Art Academy.
The choreography and composition of the Kyogen are by Master Kanjuro FUJIMA, eighth heir of the FUJIMA school.
Count von Fersen, a Swedish aristocrat in love with Marie-Antoinette, visits the crumbling palace of the late queen. The scent of rose pervades the air. The rose is the symbol of Marie-Antoinette. Stirred by the fragrance, Axel von Fersen is recalling the dear defunct when the spirit of Marie-Antoinette appears to him, accompanied by the spirit of the rose. They rejoice at this reunion. She tells him that she had to leave the world with a feeling of incompletion. Shedding tears of blood, she complains about her fate which is as ephemeral as the brevity of the rose’s life. While speaking of her joy of this reunion, she realizes that separation is her destiny and she disappears.
Comic intermission: Kyogen
Two actresses of the Takarazuka Revue completely change the atmosphere by playing on the theme of “flowers”. A woman from the east and a woman from the west invite us to the world of satire through questions and answers over the names of flowers (and the Japanese names of Western flowers). The scene is superbly punctuated with the accompaniment of traditional instruments: Nagauta (songs), shamisen, koto, flutes, drums and Japanese dance movements. The atmosphere is steeped in comic in the Kyogen style.
Marie-Antoinette is back on the stage to relive her tragic end.
The intense music of the Jiuta (choir) and the musical instruments express turmoil, war, revolution. Marie-Antoinette, driven from the throne, jailed, and alone, remembers her life at court. Queen, wife and mother of a little child, she feels lonesome nonetheless. Married at a very young age, coming from Austria, she has often been the victim of plots led by French aristocrats, unable to know who is her ally or her enemy. Leading a life unfilled to her liking, she finally meets someone who is dear to her heart, Axel von Fersen. But their happiness is short-lived.
The country is in a state of desolation and Marie-Antoinette is driven away by the revolution, separated from her family and imprisoned. Lastly, the queen is led to the scaffold. At that moment, she recalls a sentence from her mother: “To marry France is to serve the country and the peoples of France.” She thus follows her mother’s advice and climbs the steps toward decapitation without shaking. At the final curtain, one wonders what she could have been thinking of during her last moment, but the answer depends on everyone’s sensibility. The final song (choir) ends with the line “the flower’s life lasts forever.”
As my life ends now, rose, my dearest flower, you’ll open afresh in the ever-returning tide.
Though human life is short, flowers will open anew in the next season. It’s the rule of this world and the cycle of life (samsara) on earth.
Bear my thoughts forever and open up, rose of mine.
This play was written around the 15th century
Raiko Minamoto (one of the great samurai leaders of the time) is very sick and bedridden. His maid, Kotcho, brings him a medication. But Raiko’s condition seems to get worse and worse.
She leaves him alone in his room after her service, and far into the night, a stranger dressed as a bonze enters the room and asks him how he feels. He comes up to Raiko and tells him: “I am the cause of your illness…”.
Suddenly, the stranger throws cobwebs on Raiko to immobilize him.
Raiko counters by seizing his famous sword from his bedside.
The monk flees.
Hearing the row, his servant, Hitorimusha, rushes into the room with his men. Raiko tells him what happened and gives his sword a new name, KUMOKIRI (spider killer). He orders Hitorimusha to go get the spider and finish it off.
Following the traces of blood from the monster, Hitorimusha discovers an old heap of earth, probably the den of the monster spider.
While he is destroying the mound, the spirit of Tsuchigumo (earth spider) appears. The spirit retorts by throwing a thousand cobwebs, but Hitorimusha and his men manage to circle and kill the monster spider.
Minoru Gensho UMEWAKA (Living National Treasure of Japan)
Scenario: Shinji UEDA
Staging: Minoru Gensho UMEWAKA, Shinji UEDA
Choreography and Nagauta composition: Kanjuro FUJIMA