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Showa Music University's La Sonnambula

Green Hall, Sagamiono
07/09/1999 -  and 10 july 1999
Vincenzo Bellini : La Sonnambula
Omori Tomoko (Amina), Omura Kenya (Elvino), Yamada Sachio (Rodolpho), Manzaki Yumi (Lisa), Aizawa Yumi (Teresa) Watanabe Tomoya (Alessio), Fujiwara Kaiko (Notary) Showa Music University Chorus, Orchestra, and Ballet, Yoshinori Kikuchi (conductor), Pier-Francesco Maestrini (Director), Kawaguchi Naotsugu (Designer)

The most enjoyable performances are not always those in the best known houses with the most famous singers. This delightful performance was a case in point.

The Showa Music University have produced 23 opera since 1957, mainly Italian and early 19th-century - a concentration on Rossini, Bellini and above all Donizetti in line with Japanese tastes. Roles are taken by students and ex-students who have become professional singers, usually with the Fujiwara Opera which has a close connection with the Showa Music University. The singers are selected by the conductor, in this case the able and experienced Yoshinori Kikuchi. Operas are sung in the original language and there is usually a foreign guest director - this time Pier-Francesco Maestrini, a regular with the Fujiwara Opera and The New National Theatre.

The staging was as fresh, clean and Swiss as a box of chocolates - with costumes to match. The excitement and enjoyment felt by the student chorus (coping admirably with the Italian text) and orchestra were evident from the first scene.

The joy of the evening was the singing of Omori Tomoko as Amina. She has an attractive, fresh, well-projected voice. A totally believable Amina, she caught the essentially character of the role while singing accurately and phrasing her words most elegantly. Given just a little more variety of colouring in the voice she could command a significant career. She is still very young. I hope we can hear a lot more from her in future.

Simon Holledge



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