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Review: A Japanese Writer’s Reveries Inspire ‘Four Nights of Dream’

Still, there is a fundamental problem for anyone familiar with Soseki’s feather-light “Ten Nights’ Dreams,” with its quintessential economy of language and evanescent images. To add music and try to tease out a plot is to weigh down the original and make it earthbound. Some scenes dragged on too long.


From left, Ms. Karchin, Makoto Winkler and Ms. Park.

Ayumi Sakamoto

And for anyone not familiar with Soseki, Mr. Osada’s English libretto was probably hard to follow in the absence of projected titles, which might have made a nice substitute for some of the lighting gimmicks. Though much of the text setting was almost recitative-like in nature and easily understood when solo singing was involved, some of the words were lost in long, flowing lines, like those by the fine lyric soprano Marisa Karchin in the final scene.

Others were covered by competing voices or the brilliant orchestration. And that orchestration was compelling in itself, so effective in setting a mood that it was almost easier at times to see the work as a four-movement symphony with voices rather than a four-act opera supported by an orchestra.

In any case, it was splendidly performed by the Japanese players and a small vocal cast. Makoto Winkler, after a tentative start amid manic lighting effects, was impressive as the samurai. Christopher Sokolowski, in the father’s measured plod around the auditorium, sang with solid, attractive tone; Jesse Malgieri was a winsome idler, and Gloria Park striking as his tormentor.

In all, this was a refreshingly original take on Western opera, notable for its daring concept, however flawed in the execution.

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