Interweaving Performance Cultures
Fellow 2010/11, 2011/12
His area of specialization is the relationship between art and society mainly in the performing arts of Germany and Japan. He has published numerous books and articles on Richard Wagner. In addition to his research in the field, he has spent many years actively involved in working with chorus and opera. He applies his long-standing practical experience to his work and, in the last ten years, has been focusing increasingly on arts education and arts management. Six years ago, he founded the Kobe International Music Festival with students and citizens of Kobe. He was the project leader for the university education reform program, The Education of Arts Management to Restore Urbiculture, run by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in Japan from 2007 through 2010. He is a founding member of the Japan Association for Cultural Policy Research and has been involved in many cultural policy initiatives on a local level.
The Reception Process of German Opera in Japan
Over the course of the last century, various discourses and debates on opera took place in Japan. Guided by these discourses, attempts were made to create a fruitful ground for the reception and dissemination of opera. The central issue in these discussions was whether it would be better for modernization of Japan and the creation of a nation state to directly import European opera or to refine it with, and adapt it to, Japan’s traditional culture, its material and language. The faction advocating refinement was itself split into those demanding the Japanization of Western material and those favouring the Westernization of Japanese material. The creation of a Japanese national opera thus navigated these two extremes, often following the principle of trial and error. The three main events to have decisively influenced the spread of opera after World War II are the respective guest performances by NHK Italian Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Bayreuther Festspiele in Osaka. These main events also brought about the clear victory of the ‘direct import’ advocates. The conditions that made such a reception possible must be traced back mainly to the expansion of post-war democracy and to economic growth. However, the analysis of operatic discourse sought in this study is more likely to include the following considerations. Liberated from the curse of narrow-minded nationalism, the Japanese of the post-war era were now able to receive other cultures unhampered, freely following their own inclinations. The creation of an independent Japanese national opera was indeed soon to fade in importance.
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