Die Judith von Shimoda

Fabián Panisello

Opera in two parts (2023)
Libretto by Juan Lucas based on the play Nyonin Aishi. Tōjin Okichi Monogatari (The sad tale of a woman. The story of Chink Okichi) by Yamamoto Yūzō (1929) in an adaptation by Bertolt Brecht and Hella Wuolijoki (posthumously published)

17 August 2023 – 8.00 pm

Co-production with Neue Oper Wien

This is the story of an US-American consul in Japan and a geisha serving at his house to appease the sullen man.

What appears to be another version of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at first, is actually Bertolt Brecht’s play adaption of a Japanese text from 1940. In 1997, years after Brecht’s death, the text was edited for the first time, which inspired Argentinian composer Fabián Panisello to write his new opera.

The original was written in 1929 by Yamamoto Yūzō and tells the story of the first US-American consul who lands in Shimoda in 1856 and is angry that he is not welcomed with Japanese servants at his house. As the negotiations about a trade agreement between the US and Japan stall, he threatens to bomb the city. At this point, the geisha Okichi agrees to serve the consul in the hope of saving her home town. Rather than becoming a heroine, however, Okichi is shunned for getting involved with the foreigner – despite her marriage with a Japanese man. She then turns to alcohol and becomes a geisha again. For Brecht, Yūzō’s story showed potential for “a Japanese Judith”. He saw it as “the ending for the heroic deed”. By referring to the biblical character Judith, Brecht pointed out the responsibility of society for Okichi’s development.

Following the huge success of Staatsoperette – Die Austrotragödie and Reigen, Bregenz Festival and Neue Oper Wien continue their fruitful cooperation. Director Philipp M. Krenn stages the challenging opera and the young art designer Susanne Bendel is responsible for set, costumes and video design.

Okichi Anna Davidson
Saito Alexander Kaimbacher
Ofuku | Clive Megan Kahts
Tsurumatsu | Kito Martin Lechleitner
Henry Heusken | Akimura Harald Hein
Osai | Ray Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod
Townsend Harris Timothy Connor
Prince Isa Karl Huml

Musical Director Walter Kobéra
Stage Director Philipp M. Krenn
Stage | Costume | Video Designer Susanne Brendel
Lighting Designer Norbert Chmel
Sound | Live Electronics Christina Bauer
Programmer | Live Electronics Alexis Baskind
Choir Master Bernhard Jaretz
Dramaturge Florian Amort

Wiener Kammerchor
amadeus ensemble-wien