6th month celebrating the opening of the new Kabukiza within a 1-year long cycle of kokera otoshi programs.
Shin Usuyuki Monogatari:
(The Tale of Princess Usuyuki)
Most of the matinee program consists of a full-length production of a Kabuki epic.
This play, adapted from the Bunraku puppet theater, combines the best of kabuki --
romance, colorful spectacle and tragedy. With its numerous good roles,
a large gathering of popular and accomplished actors are necessary to stage it.
Rarely performed, when this play appears, it is always an event.
Hanami: Saemon (Nakamura Kankur˘), the eldest son of the Sonobe family and
Princesss Usuyuki (Nakamura Baishi), the daughter of the Saizaki family,
fall in love after glimpsing one another under the cherry blossoms
of Kiyomizu temple and are brought together by their servants.
The villain Daizen (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) places a curse on a sword presented to
the temple by Saemon. By framing the couple, he hopes to bring destroy
their families so they cannot hinder his effort to take over the country.
Saemon's servant Tsumahei (Kataoka Ainosuke) almost defeats this plan and is
attacked by Daizen's henchmen in a spectacular fight scene with water buckets.
Sengi: Saemon and Princess Usuyuki are charged with treason.
Minbu (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) comes to investigate the two, and although they maintain
their innocence, Daizen is able to turn the evidence against them.
The compassionate Minbu gives them a temporary reprieve, but still,
must place them under house arrest, each at the house of the other's family,
with Saemon at the Saizaki residence and Princess Usuyuki at the
Sannin Warai: unable to prove the innocence of the young couple,
their fathers are charged with cutting off their heads.
Sonobe Hy˘e (Ichikawa Somegor˘) and his wife Ume-no-Kata (Onoe Kikunosuke) allow Princess
Usuyuki to escape. Saizaki (Onoe Sh˘roku) appears with a head box which
he says contains the head of Saemon and demands that Sonobe cut off Princess
Usuyuki's head. Sonobe returns, having secretly stabbed himself to
atone for letting Princess Usuyuki escape. Saizaki reveals that, in fact,
he has done the same and the two, seemingly stern and villainous men reveal
that they have sacrificed themselves for love of their children.
Yoshiwara Suzume: in this dance, a husband and wife come to the
Yoshiwara pleasure quarters to sell caged sparrows for
a ceremony to gain Buddhist merit by releasing living things. Caged sparrows were
also images for the courtesans of the pleasure quarters,
and the two dance a romantic meeting between a courtesan and her lover,
showing the lively and erotic atmosphere of the pleasure quarters.
Starring Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke as the husband and wife.
Onmy˘ji: the social situation in the capital city Ky˘to in the Heian period
is threatening. Evil spirits appear, enigmatic theft occurs and pregnant women are attacked one after another.
A well-received young fortune-teller Abe no Seimei (Ichikawa Somegor˘) encounters pandemonium and is impressed by a beautiful
princess riding on a dragon as he walked with his friend and good piper Minamoto no Hiromasa (Nakamura Kankur˘) one night along
the street in the capital. They investigate the rumor that the princess was the leader of the bandits and find
out that all recent cases in the capital are related to the Revolt of Masakado 20 years before.
Masakado (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) rebelled for the good of public sentiment. Prince Okiyo˘ (Kataoka Ainosuke) made use of Masakado's feeling and shadowed
him ominously. It is Tawara no T˘da (Onoe Sh˘roku) who received an Imperial order to subjugate Masakado.
Masakado and T˘da evaluate their ability each other high. T˘da leaves for the East where Kiky˘-no-Mae (Nakamura Shichinosuke)
who used to love T˘da lives now with Masakado. With the truth of the case, the identity of the mysterious
princess has turned out to be Princess Takiyasha (Onoe Kikunosuke), the daughter of Masakado, and a horrible plot over 20 years
becomes obvious here. "Onmy˘ji" is a popular romance by Yumemakura Baku. It is also popular in comics and
films and staged for Kabuki to celebrate the reopening of Kabukiza Theatre.
Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website