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The Sumidagawa Project

The Sumidagawa Project Three versions. One haunting tale.

A mother searches for her lost son. Driven half-mad with worry, she meets a ferryman on the Sumida River who may know something. But is she prepared to learn the truth?

The tragic story of Sumidagawa has haunted Japanese and Western artists for hundreds of years. Join us as we explore three very different versions of the story: Noh theatre, Kabuki theatre, and chamber opera.

Sumidagawa (Noh version)

September 11, 2pm – Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley

First performed in medieval Japan, the Noh version of Sumidagawa has moved audiences for centuries with its particular blend of mystery and pathos. A master work in the kyojomono category of Noh play—dramas of madwomen.

Sumidagawa (Kabuki version)

September 18, 2pm – Oakland Asian Cultural Center

With inspiration from Russian ballet, the Noh version was adapted to the Kabuki stage. The result is one of the great modern masterpieces of Kabuki.  

Curlew River (chamber opera version)

October 16, 2pm – Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley

Benjamin Britten was a world-renowned composer when he saw the Noh Sumidagawa in Japan in 1956. Intensely moved, he vowed to write a chamber opera of the story. Transposing the setting to the Curlew River in medieval England, Britten composed a powerful and touching parable for our times.

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