Love Story of Vietnamese Princess and Japanese Merchant Brought to Opera Stage
Vietnamese and Japanese are joining hands to bring the beautiful love story between Princess Ngoc Hoa, a member of the native Hue royal family, and Japanese merchant Sotaro Araki, to the new genre of opera under the name of “Princess Anio.”
|The launch ceremony was held via both in-person and online formats.|
The new opera project, which will premiere at Hanoi Opera House in September 2023, has been launched to celebrate the 50th founding anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan and to promote exchange and friendship.
According to VNA, the opera is based on the motif of the love story between Sotaro Araki, a merchant from Nagasaki and Princess Ngoc Hoa (called Princess Anio by Japanese) in Hoi An, Vietnam, during the trading era of the Shuinsen in the early 17th century.
The history of the Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam states that Princess Ngoc Hoa was the daughter of Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen who reigned from 1613 to 1635.
While doing business in Hoi An in 1619, Sotaro Araki fell in love and got married to Princess Ngoc Hoa.
One year later Ngoc Hoa went to Japan. She died in 1645 and she was buried in Nagasaki.
The love and happy marriage of Ngoc Hoa and Araki became a famous story in Nagasaki. Ngoc Hoa’s mirror is still preserved in Nagasaki Art Museum. The wedding of Ngoc Hoa and Araki annually reappears in Okunchi festival in Nagasaki.
|Poster of the opera project.|
Since ancient times, Japan and Vietnam have had a very good relationship as reliable and equal partners. By making an opera based on this, the project aims to create a work that will become a symbol of further deepening the relationship between the two countries.
Speaking at the launching ceremony on Dec.16, Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Takio Yamada will take part in the project as an honorary advisor.
It is supported and sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam, the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam and other organisations from both nations.
The diplomat said the opera would help people of the two countries reminisce about the good relationship between Japan and Vietnam in the past and further tighten their bonds in the future.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ta Quang Dong appreciated the opera project, emphasising that the Vietnam-Japan cooperation relationship has achieved strong and comprehensive development steps in many fields.
“This is a good opportunity for us to review the tradition and friendship of the governments and people of Vietnam and Japan and have a deeper understanding of the significance of this event,” he said.
The deputy minister also said Japan and Vietnam would coordinate in organising a variety of activities to mark the 50th founding anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2023.
"In addition to the performance in Vietnam in September 2023, we are also preparing to perform this play in Japan. We have almost completed the script and music.The whole crew is working very hard to make the play a success in both countries, bring new emotions to the audience, and contributing to the diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan," Trinh Tung Linh, director of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra, said.
Musician Tran Manh Hung said 'Princess Anio' was a meaningful project for both countries. Previously, opera was only for European dignitaries and aristocrats, but here is a project to bring opera to the people of the two countries.
|Re-enactment of the wedding of Princess Ngoc Hoa and a Japanese merchant in 17th Hoi An - Japan Cultural Exchange in Hoi An Quang Nam province in 2019.|
Japanese conductor Honna Tetsuji said that currently the original work has been completed, a script written in Japanese had been completed, and this script had also been sent to the translation team of the project to translate to Vietnamese, then it would be sent to music composer Tran Manh Hung and Vietnamese lyricist Ha Quang Minh.
"The opera is set in two countries so the scenes in the play have lyrics in both languages. All the singers have to learn two languages to take part in the play, which will be a special performance when artists from both countries have to sing in dual languages."
Honna also stressed that due to the increasingly widespread Covid-19 pandemic, exchanges between Vietnam and Japan would continue to be interrupted like the time what the main character in the story Princess Anio had to face.
However, like the main character's thoughts at that time, we believe in the future of Vietnam and Japan, thereby aiming to create a work that can help support exchanges between the two countries to return to normal, and help to tighten and deepen the bilateral relationship," said Honna, who also hopes that Princess Anio will become a symbol of promoting Japan-Vietnam friendship.
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