A Dream of Armageddon - A highly topical and relevant new opera by Dai Fujikura based on a visionary short story by H.G.Wells
You may wonder why on this site I am posting notice of a quite extraordinary new opera in Japan.
A Dream of Armageddon
New Production - World Premiere
Supported by British Council
15 November- 23 November 2020 (4 past Performances)
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I particularly encourage to you to read the visionary H.G. Wells short story on which the libretto is based
The opera expresses these thoughts profoundly and increasingly relevantly, in real time, to our time
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Reviews of the World Premiere
'Prophetic and Visionary '
opera I was accelerated back to my rather unusual reverse exposure to classical
music. In the 1960s, long before I was at all familiar with the
conventional classical repertoire, I had attended concerts, listened to
recordings and studied the fascinating 'avant-garde' (so-called at that time)
scores of only living composers such as Pierre Boulez,
Henri Pousseur, Iannis Xenakis, Mauricio Kagel, Cornelius
Cardew, Krzysztof Penderecki, Karol Szymanowski, Witold Lutosławski, Luciano
Berio, Luigi Nono and John Cage. In 1968 I spent months in Cologne as a writer,
not a musician, observing the astounding course and development
of the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen.
There is no greater musical and metaphysical experience than attending a concert of music performed in the presence of the living composer himself. This feeling was particularly strong when say Stockhausen was 'at the controls' of his space craft in the mind-expanding space flights one takes through the various Regions of his masterpiece Hymnen, comparable only to such works as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. I have not remained the same being after listening to the version with orchestra in 1968 in Bruxelles. This work is perhaps the greatest truly contemporary expression of man's existential isolation, his attempts to relate across cultures yet at the same time aware of his subconscious loneliness floating like the atom he is in the vast and ever expanding cosmos.
I felt a similar sense of isolation and alienation in this opera and its text. Hear the world of human dreams is pitted against the grim reality of war, the ultimate futility of hoping that love will conquer bombs and bullets.
One of the
very greatest of all composers, Olivier Messiaen, was alive then (I
remember his long, multi-coloured scarf illuminating a darkened Westminster Cathedral after a
spiritually demolishing performance of Et Expecto
Resurrectionem Mortuorum, a scarf as colorful as his birds
flying below in the abyss of the unfinished cathedral roof).
It had been a similar epiphany listening to The Dream of Armageddon.
I have just finished watching the opera at last after all these tough years of Covid determined silence. An excellent day to concentrate on serious thoughts in freezing Warsaw. Such a gift from Tokyo!
The opera is at once monumental, disturbing, spiritually uplifting and deeply thought-provoking. No opera libretto I know is as deeply philosophical, prophetic and visionary as this, based as it is on a far-reaching conception of the future by H. G. Wells. The music is brilliantly imaginative and presents us with a kaleidoscope of colors, textures and harmonies ranging across the emotional stylistic spectrum of many centuries. Being an author I am familiar with the visionary texts of H. G. Wells of course. I would say that for a full understanding of the implications, it is imperative to read the story before watching the opera.
I discussed contemporary music with the composer when visiting Hiroshima in 2019 on the 'Music for Peace' project. We discussed mainly the music of 'modern' composers, those with apocalyptic and metaphysical visions. I am familiar with such modern works which helped me relate to the nature of his musical writing. I felt this opera to be uniquely reaching out with both a practical and metaphysical musical message of warning to us all. The pandemic has almost unavoidably strengthened the coercive reduction of freedom and increased population control.
In short a magnificently relevant and courageous work, one of the greatest works added to the canon of modern operatic composition.
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A Dream of Armageddon
The Japan Times
Ken Mogi, who wrote the review below and presents the Youtube clip, is an entertaining neuroscientist, best-selling author, music critic and broadcaster based in Tokyo, Japan
Following on from Asters, this is the second in our series of commissioned works by Japanese composers. This is a new opera by prolific composer and music pioneer FUJIKURA Dai, who lives in London and is sought out by opera houses and orchestras around the world. This is the third opera by FUJIKURA, although only a concert version of Solaris has ever been performed in Japan. This performance is bound to draw national and international attention.
The theme chosen by FUJIKURA is A Dream of Armageddon, a short science fiction story written by H. G. WELLS at the beginning of the 20th century. Poet Harry ROSS, a long-time associate of FUJIKURA, worked on the libretto (in English), while FUJIKURA, in his typical bold style, transformed it into an opera that freely transcends space and time with a thrilling portrayal of the threats around us who live in the present age. Adapted from the original work, which evinces anxiety about science and technology leading to world war and mass murder.
American director Lydia STEIER will direct this new work, noted for her work on Die Zauberflöte at the 2018 Salzburg Festival. Conducting will be our Artistic Director of Opera, ONO Kazushi. Following on from Asters, universally acclaimed by Japanese and international media, the NNTT, is proud to present the world with this opera by a Japanese composer.
Interview with the composer Dai Fujikura
Thought-provoking and penetrating interview with the librettist Harry Ross
Message from Composer
Message from the Librettist
Message from the Director
My visit to Japan concerning the 'Music for Peace' Project masterminded by Martha Argerich and Shoji Sato. A spiritually uplifting and marvelous musical visit to Hiroshima in February 2019