Two Great Traditions.  One Great Story.

May 26, 27, 28 at 7:30 – May 30 at 2:30

Frederic Wood Theatre at UBC – $40.00 general – $26.00 student ID


Sikora’s Classical Records

A double bill in May.

From the immortal Noh drama Sumidagawa, two modern tellings.

~  Natsu Nakajima’s Butoh dance, Sumida River

~  Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera, Curlew River

An event premiere in Canada.

We build great bridges, crossing five centuries and two cultures in one narrative. We tell the story of a woman driven mad by the loss of her child. It is agonizing and beautiful.

Japanese dance.   Western opera.   Together.

Motomasa’s Sumidagawa will be told by the legendary butoh artist Denise Fujiwara, coming from Toronto, in a choreography made for her by Natsu Nakajima.

After intermission, the same story will be told again. In this telling, Britten’s chamber opera Curlew River will be given. It offers the same plot and characters, and the same dramatic arc – but from a Western vantage.

Consider Rashomon. Just when we think we understand, we are called upon to think again.

Our production is endorsed by explorASIAN, the Japanese Language School and Hall, the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre, the Powell Street Festival, Sikora’s Classical Records, The Bulletin of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Citizens’ Association, the UBC Alumni Association, and the UBC Department of Asian Studies. It is supported by Accent Inns, Tom Lee Music, the Michael O’Brian Foundation for the Arts, Yoshiko Karasawa, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the McLean Foundation of Toronto.

Our principal partners are UBC Theatre and Film, and Blackbird Theatre. We have also partnered with Denise Fujiwara Dance Inventions, and the Vancouver Cantata Singers.


Starring as Madwoman in Sumidagawa is the legendary Denise Fujiwara, joining us from Toronto. Her work, drawn from the original Noh play and now given as a one-woman performance, is mesmerizing.


Denise Fujiwara/Madwoman Isaiah Bell/Madwoman

Starring as Madwoman in Curlew River is the remarkable young Canadian tenor, Isaiah Bell. Twenty years from now, you will be able to say that you heard Isaiah in his first starring role. He is that good.

John Minagro, who moved audiences as Death in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, will appear as the Abbot, and the splendid baritones Sam Marcaccini as the Ferryman and Joel Klein as the Traveller. The male chorus comes to us from the Vancouver Cantata Singers.


John Minagro/Abbot Sam Marcaccini/Ferryman Joel Klein/Traveller

Janet Lea and Nora Kelly are the producers. John Wright directs. Robert Gardiner is the scenographer, Marti Wright the costumier, Bob Eberle our production coordinator, and Charles Barber leads the music.

Free talks

To promote Sumidagawa & Curlew River we are giving free talks across Metro Vancouver. If you would like a presentation we have DVDs, CDs and print materials, and can offer from fifteen minutes to ninety. Interested?

Production logo designed by JADE –