The project celebrates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam.
The main actors and actresses who will take part in the project are singers Dao To Loan and Bui Thi Trang (female soprano) for the role of princess Anio, while two male tenors, Kobori Yusuke and Yamamito Kohei will take the role of Japanese businessman Araki Sotaro.
According to Yamada Takio, Japanese ambassador to Vietnam, the opera is based on a real story of the love of Japanese merchant Araki Sotaro and Princess Ngoc Hoa [called Princess Anio by Japanese] in Hoi An, Vietnam, during the trading era of the Shuinsen in the early 17th century.
During the Nguyen Dynasty, Princess Ngoc Hoa was the daughter of Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, who reigned from 1613 to 1635.
Since ancient times, Japan and Vietnam have had a strong relationship as reliable and equal partners. By making an opera based on this, the project aims to create a work that will become a symbol of the deepening relationship between the two countries.
In the story, Araki goes to Hoi An to trade and meets the princess. They fall in love and get married. In 1620, he takes her to Nagasaki, where locals like her due to her beautiful appearance and gentle character.
She calls him “anh oi, anh oi” in Vietnamese, so locals nickname her Princess Anio.
Today, locals still stage a palanquin procession ceremony to welcome Princess Anio at Nagasaki Kunchi Festival in Nagasaki.
Conductor Honna Tetsuji is the general director for the project, while Tran Manh Hung is the composer.
Oyama Daisuke was the playwright for the Japanese, while Ha Quang Minh wrote the Vietnamese.
Artist Ando Saeko is the image director, artist Oyama Daisuke, the director, and there will also be artists from the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Theatre and Art Creation JDC.
Researcher Phan Hai Linh serves as historical consultant.
The ambassador hopes the opera will become a cultural work signalling the importance of the 50th anniversary and help people understand the age-old close ties between the two countries.
“Four hundred years ago, there existed a good relationship of the two equal partners with mutual trust,” he said. “Through this opera based on a real story, we want to create an artwork, which is like a bridge to enhance two countries’ relations in 50, 100 and many more years.”
Playwright Oyama Daisuke said the opera had four parts. The first two parts are in Vietnamese, while the remaining two parts are 70% in Japanese and 30% in Vietnamese. The opera will have subtitles in Vietnamese, Japanese and English.
The production team will continue to cast artists for other roles.
The opera will be performed officially in September 2023 and then will be performed in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hoi An.
Singer Dao To Loan graduated from Vietnam National Academy of Music in 2014. She got a master’s degree in performing in 2016. She sings opera, traditional semi-classical, folk and pop. She has received various domestic and international prizes.
Bui Thi Trang (Trang Bui) works as a singer at the Vietnam Opera & Ballet Theatre. In 2018, she took a master’s degree in vocal performing at the Vietnam National Academy of Music. She has acted in the main roles in various opera projects such as The Magic Flute (Mozart), Carmen (Bizet), Nguoi Tac Tuong (Statue Carver) (Do Nhuan) and Les Miserable (Victor Hugo).
Artist Kobori Yusuke graduated with the highest scores in the vocal field and opera vocal training course at the Japan National Academy of Music. He has joined various training programmes in Italy and Canada.
Artist Yamamoto Kohei graduated with an MA and the highest scores from the Tokyo Arts University. He has won various national and international prizes.