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Thursday, June 21, 2007
SAITO KINEN FESTIVAL
Soundtrack of the summer: Seiji Ozawa
Under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, some of Japan's top classical musicians gather each year for roughly a month of opera and orchestral concerts. The Saito Kinen Festival showcases an opera, usually something a little offbeat, and this year it's Tchaikovsky's "Pikovaya Dama" ("The Queen of Spades"), based loosely on Pushkin's tale of greed, obsession and the supernatural. The opera, an uneasy mix of full-blooded romanticism and rococo pastiche, has long been overshadowed by the composer's own "Eugene Onegin," so this is a good chance to hear what is arguably the more sophisticated of the two operas.
Also check out: The main concert event, also conducted by Ozawa, features Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" and Ravel's crowd-pleaser "Pavane pour une infante defunte." The big draw here, though, is the new song cycle by Henri Dutilleux written for the opulent voice of American soprano Rene Fleming. Consider also the Toru Takemitsu Memorial Concert, with works by Takemitsu and other less familiar local composers.
The setting: All venues are quickly and easily accessible from picturesque Matsumoto's train station in Nagano Prefecture.
When/where: Matsumoto is roughly a 2 1/2-hour journey by train on the JR Chuo Toen Line from Tokyo. "Pikovaya Dama" is performed at the Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre on Aug. 26, 28, 31, Sept. 2. The orchestral concert is at the Nagano-ken Matsumoto Bunka Kaikan on Sept. 6, 8, 9. The Takemitsu concert is at the Harmony Hall, Aug. 24. www.saito-kinen.com/e/