Musume Nanakusa: in the Edo period, every New Year,
plays appeared about the medieval vendetta carried out by the Soga brothers
Jűr˘ and Gor˘. This colorful, old-fashioned dance mixes this tradition with
that of eating porridge containing seven auspicious herbs on the seventh
day of the new year. As the brothers Jűr˘ (Onoe Kikunosuke) and Gor˘ (Onoe Sh˘roku)
prepare to face their father's murderer and take revenge, along with beautiful
Shizuka Gozen (Kataoka Takatar˘), they cut the herbs, as a symbolic act of vengeance.
Kimura Nagato-no-Kami: ???
Meiboku Sendai Hagi: this play is about the attempt to take over one of the most
famous samurai households in the Edo period, a scandal that caused a sensation in
Hanamizubashi: the daimy˘ Yorikane
(Onoe Kikunosuke) has fallen in love with a courtesan and has neglected responsibilities,
causing high ranking retainers to plot the takeover of his domain.
Returning from the pleasure quarters, he is attacked at Hanamizu Bridge, but
is able to escape thanks to the help of a sum˘ wrestler retainer.
Take-no-Ma/Goten: Masaoka (Sakata T˘jűr˘), a loyal maidservant, is taking care of the
lord's young heir. Afraid he will be poisoned, she refuses to let anyone see
him who might try to assassinate him. She even fixes his meal in her quarters
using her delicate tea ceremony implements to cook rice. The plotting faction
does not give up, though, and sends poison in the form of candy as a present
from the Sh˘gun. Masaoka's son sacrifices his life for the young lord
by eating the poisoned candy, and when he is killed, she thinks only of
protecting her lord. Her fierce devotion to duty convinces the plotters
that she is on their side. Masaoka's actions help save the young lord,
and only when she is alone can she grieve for her son. With Kataoka Nizaemon
as the villainous Yashio, a court woman who kills Masaokaĺs son.
Yukashita: Another faithful retainer Otokonosuke (Onoe Sh˘roku), stands guard
underneath the room, but the evil Nikki Danj˘ (Kataoka Nizaemon) appears as a giant rat,
but then slips away, walking calmly through the clouds.
Taiketsu/Ninj˘: the elderly Geki (Ichikawa Sadanji), a faithful retainer,
brings charges against Danj˘. Danj˘ cleverly protests his innocence, but his lies
are seen through by the wise judge Katsumoto (Onoe Kikugor˘). Condemned to death,
Nikki tries to take his revenge on Geki.
Kumagai Jin'ya: this play is a dramatization of the clash between the Genji general Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane
and the Heike warrior Taira no Atsumori at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani, one of the most famous passages of the epic
"Tales of the Heike". In the Kabuki version, on the cryptic orders of the Genji leader Yoshitsune,
Kumagai hides the enemy warrior Atsumori and has his own son take the warrior's place.
On the battlefield, Kumagai has to kill his own son in Atsumori's place.
Things become worse when his wife Sagami and Atsumori's mother Fuji-no-Kata arrive at his camp.
In the highlight of the play, he tells them the story of his mortal battle with Atsumori, keeping Atsumori's well-being and his own sacrifice a secret.
He then shows the head of Atsumori for inspection by his leader to see if he has interpreted his orders correctly.
This performance stars Kataoka Nizaemon as Kumagai,
with Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Kumagai's wife Sagami,
Kataoka Takatar˘ as Fuji-no-Kata,
Sakata T˘jűr˘ as Yoshitsune and
Kataoka Gat˘ as Midaroku.
Kurotegumi Sukeroku: this play by the 19th century
playwright Kawatake Mokuami combines the sunny world of the Kabuki classic
"Sukeroku", the handsome hero Sukeroku and his lover
Agemaki, the top courtesan in the Yoshiwara, with his own dark world of thieves
and absconding clerks and the ironic twists of karma.
Featuring Onoe Kikugor˘ as Sukeroku and the comic clerk Gonkur˘ and Nakamura Kaishun as Agemaki.
Also starring Ichikawa Sadanji, Sawamura Tanosuke, Onoe Kikunosuke and Onoe Sh˘roku.
Hagoromo: the legend of the angel who came to earth to bathe and then had her
heavenly feathered robe stolen by a fisherman is famous in all forms of Japanese
theater. This month features an elegant dance version of the story with
Onoe Sh˘roku as the fisherman and Onoe Kikunosuke as the angel.
(The Dumpling Peddlers)
the mortar and pestle used for pounding rice cakes
and dumplings are a symbol of a happily married couple. This short, lively
dance shows a couple peddling dumplings with a series of songs and dances.
Starring Kataoka Ainosuke and Kataoka Takatar˘ in the roles of the husband and the wife.
Source: Earphone Guide website