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Noh TriviaQuestion and Answer

Although Noh is a classic stage art, of which Japan is proud, only a handful of the Japanese have actually visited a Noh theater and appreciated Noh programs. Therefore, The-Noh.com answers questions that surprise and enchant Noh beginners who have not yet familiar with the Noh world.

New! (May. 20, 2021)

Question164 An Italian opera based on Noh?

illustration

“Madama Butterfly” is famous as an Italian opera related to Japan, but there is also a work inspired by Noh - “Il tamburo di panno”.

The Italian musician Orazio Fiume (1908-1976) composed and wrote the piece, which premiered at Rome Opera House in April 1962. Fiume is said to have been inspired by an article about Noh in the magazine “La Scalla.”

The setting is an oriental royal garden. It is said that an old gardener who fell in love with a beautiful princess will be able to visit her if the sound of a drum rings out to the palace where she lives. The drum, however, is made of fabric and not supposed to make any sound. He keeps beating the silent drum and throws himself into a pond in grief. At night, as the princess is walking by the pond, the ghost of the old gardener orders her to ring out the cloth drum, and she dies in despair. The name of the original Noh play is not mentioned in the Italian literature, but it is probably “Aya no Tsuzumi” (The Twill Hand Drum).

After gaining popularity in Rome, “Il tamburo di panno” was also performed in Bologna and Trieste, broadcast on radio by public broadcaster RAI in 1963, and televised on RAI the following year. In a production produced by RAI in 1974, the princess was played by Michie Akisada, a Japanese soprano who was active in Italy.


illustration : Hiroko Sakaki
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