Musical gloom from Japan

Musical gloom from Japan


norman lebrecht

March 15, 2011

The Maggio Musicale company have been ordered home by the Mayor of Florence. They were meant to be performing Tosca and Forza del Destino in Tokyo but singers were told last night to pack their bags after two nervous soloists had withdrawn unilaterally and flown home at their own expense.

Two chorus members stepped up to replace them and conductor Zubin Mehta and intendant Francesca Colombo made strenuous efforts to have the show go on, arguing that the shattered people of Tokyo needed music now more than ever.
However, unions representing the orchestra, stagehands and chorus warned that they should not be exposed to nuclear radiation – not that there is any risk in Tokyo itself – and the tour was called off after only two performances, one of each opera.
If anyone has further details of the shambles, please post them here.
This Italian report reflects the prevalent chaos.


  • john humphreys says:

    should have stayed – Berlin reduced to rubble at the end of the war but the Berlin Phil played on. Of course music has a ‘function’ beyond merely titillating the ear and the poor Japanese do indeed need this consolation more now than ever.

  • Stephanie says:

    I completely agree that music has a function beyond entertainment, but think about it… the fact that the Berlin Phil kept on playing has a completely different meaning than a touring company risking health to stay and perform. They were based right there, they were something the country was able to hang on to, with incredible history and culture. The fact that it was part of the city that was destroyed meant that the citizens could prove they were not completely broken, and that they still had something left to take pride in after such a great loss.
    Japan, on the other hand… while I’m quite sure the music would be appreciated and it would indeed bring people together and help to heal, the disaster is much too recent to start worrying about that so soon. The point is that the disaster is far from over… they are still right in the middle of it and need other kinds of help. There will be disease and other complications, surely including health risks from radiation. They need to ensure that they are healthy – if we send anything over to help at this point, it needs to be food, water, and ways to keep warm. Ways to survive. Basic human needs must always come first. Life itself must be preserved before we worry about the quality of it. If not, we won’t be around to hear the music to begin with.
    I am sure that once everything begins to settle down in Japan, they will welcome an offering of music. But right now it’s just too soon.