The two stars of these March Grand Kabuki performances are the goruden kombi
Living National Treasures Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Kataoka Nizaemon,
who perform together in two important scenes from Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri" and the dance "Omatsuri".
The Kabukiza also commemorates the 6th anniversary (7th memorial service) of the passing away of late Nakamura Jakuemon IV with his son Nakamura Jakuemon performing, along with Onoe Sh˘roku, in the dance "Meoto D˘j˘ji".
Kokusen'ya Gassen: originally written for the Bunraku puppet
theatre, it is oldest period play in the puppet repertory with a continuous performance tradition.
This exotic play on a grand scale by Chikamatsu Monzaemon is based on the
true story of a warrior from Japan, who fought in China to restore the Ming dynasty after its fall.
Wat˘nai (whose name means "neither Chinese nor Japanese") is the son of a Chinese official and a Japanese mother.
This performance features the touching drama as Wat˘nai (Kataoka Ainosuke) goes with his parents to try to enlist the aid of
his sister Kinsh˘jo (Nakamura Senjaku), now the wife of the powerful Chinese general Kanki (Nakamura Shikan). She eventually agrees,
but can only do so by making a terrible sacrifice. This full-length performance also features very rarely
performed scenes showing the Chinese Ming dynasty being overtaken by tribes from the north and the call for help,
a call that goes to Japan. Featuring also Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘ (R˘ikkan) and Kataoka Hidetar˘ (Wat˘nai's mother Nagisa).
Meoto D˘j˘ji: "Musume D˘j˘ji" is based
on a legend about a woman transformed into a serpent out of jealousy and who
destroys a temple bell keeping her from the
object of her love. The original dance shows the spirit of the woman who appears at
D˘j˘ji temple as a dancer who wants to celebrate the dedication of a new bell
and does a series of dances showing the many faces of femininity. In this version
there are two dancers and one is revealed to be a man in disguise and, in the
highlight of the dance, transforms the romantic highpoint of the original piece
into a comic scene by using masks. Starring Nakamura Jakuemon as the female dancer and
Onoe Sh˘roku as the male dancer.
Shibahama no Kawazaifu: this is a play adapted from a rakugo
story by San'yűtei Ench˘ which was originally performed in vaudeville by a solo performer.
This tells the story of a man who is a drunk and good for nothing who picks up a
leather purse full of coins while fishing. He takes it home and celebrates with a
big drinking party. In the morning he asks his wife for the purse, but she insists
that it was all a dream and shows how much money he has wasted with his drunken
party. He decides to reform and becomes a hard worker. Three years later, the
couple now lives comfortably and the wife says that she must apologize. She lied
and hid the purse because she felt that this was the only way to get her husband
on the right path. He thanks her and this purse which has given them so much.
Starring Nakamura Shikan as the man and Kataoka Takatar˘ as his wife. Featuring also Band˘ Yajűr˘.
Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri: this is a play written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV,
and these scenes in particular reflect the decadence and corruption found in the underbelly of ordinary society
at that time. The scenes portray two outwardly charming characters who are filled with wickedness.
There are several typical role types that appear in Kabuki, and akuba (wicked lady)
is one of them. Oroku is an akuba and although beautiful,
she is truly wicked. Trying to extort 100 gold coins, Oroku and her husband Kimon no Kihŕ visit a pawnshop carrying the
dead body of Oroku's brother. The two insist that her brother died from an injury he incurred in a
quarrel with its apprentice. However, the dead body suddenly becomes conscious and the extortion ends in failure.
Although disappointed, the two leave the pawnshop without flinching in the slightest.
Starring Living National Treasures Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Kataoka Nizaemon in the roles of Oroku and Kihŕ.
Omatsuri: the gallant commoners of Edo's neighborhoods loved nothing better than a festival,
and this performance is a dance based on one of the biggest festivals in Edo.
In this dance, a gallant fireman (Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon) and a geisha (Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘) appear on stage and show their Edo-style spirit.
In the end, a young man comes out and a beautiful fighting scene unfolds on stage.
Taki no Shiraito: This play was adapted from Izumi Ky˘ka's novel "Giketsu Ky˘ketsu"
('The Righteous and the Chivalrous') in 1895. Taki no Shiraito (Nakamura Kazutar˘), a female entertainer who is a member of a troupe,
meets Murakoshi Kin'ya (Onoe Matsuya). Though his house has gone to ruin and he is now a groom, he dreams of becoming
a lawyer. She promises to supply him with his school-expenses. Three years later, she is robbed of the money
she intended to send to him. She becomes distracted and kills a married couple in a nearby house.
Appearing in court as a murder suspect, she is shocked to find Kin'ya, who for the first time after
he graduated university, is sitting in the seat of a public prosecutor. Featuring also Nakamura Karoku.
Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website