In 1998, the third collaboration work with Yoshi was « Curlew River », an opera written by Benjamin Britten. It was a work for the Festival of Lyrical Art in Aix-en-Provence in France.
I will always remember when Yoshi asked me:
- « Jean, do you like opera? »
My answer to Yoshi was: « well, I do not know much about it and there are, in operas works, many moments that I found very beautiful, but this way of expression and of acting feels to me not natural, so I am not a big fan and what about you? ».. Yoshi smiled and said: « well it is the same for me ». But both of us will change our mind while discovering this beautiful Opera of Benjamin Britten.
In fact it was not without reason that the opera of Rouen asked Yoshi to do the stage directing of this work. Benjamin wrote it after being very impressed watching a Nô theatre play in Japan named « Sumidagawa ». The work is based on the Japanese noh play Sumidagawa (Sumida River) of Juro Motomasa] (1395–1431), which Britten saw during a visit to Japan and the Far East in early 1956. Beyond the noh source dramatic material, Britten incorporated elements of noh treatment of theatrical time into this composition.
The main singer playing the role of the mad woman was Micheal Bennett. A great singer, impressive actor and on top of it, a very nice person. There was not much choreography work to do, but I could help in various situations. From my point of view and of taste, this meeting between BenjaminBritten’s work, Yoshi Oida stage directing, and Micheal Bennett singing and acting performance was a beautiful and very strong moment of art. I will never forget the emotion that invaded me every time that Micheal was singing the beautiful aria of this poor madwoman crying the death of her son.