Contes de la lune vague après la pluie

Xavier Dayer

Contes de la lune vague après la pluie

Xavier Dayer

Chamber opera, libretto by Alain Perroux, from the original script of the Kenji Mizoguchi’s film (1953). Premiered the 20th of march 2015, at the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie.

Production Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, La Fondation Royaumont, coproduction Opéra Comique, with the support of the SACD- Fonds de Création Lyrique et l’aide à la production et à la diffusion d’Arcadi Île-de-France.

Run time: 1h40

Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, 04/20 & 04/21/2015, Opéra Comique, Paris, 05/18 & 05/19/2015


Conductor : Jean-Philippe Wurtz
Director : Vincent Huguet
Set designer : Richard Peduzzi
Costume designer : Caroline de Vivaise
Lighting designer : Bertrand Couderc
Musical preparation : Alphonse Cemin
with the support of Donatienne Michel-Dansac
Assistant director : Céline Gaudier
Assistant set designer : Clémence Bezat


Ohama : Judith Fa
Princess Wakasa : Luanda Siqueira
Miyagi : Majdouline Zerari
Tobe : Carlos Natale
Genjuro : Benjamin Mayenobe in Rouen/ Taeill Kim in Paris
L’homme sur le bateau, la gouvernante, l’armurier, un marchand de tissu, le commandant samouraï, le prêtre : David Tricou
Genichi : Louis and Lucas Bischoff

Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie in Rouen/ Ensemble Linea in Paris

Photos : © Vincent Pontet/Opéra Comique © Ferrante Ferranti © F. Carnuccini/Opéra de Rouen © Julie Moulier

Director’s statement
by Vincent Huguet

Contes de la lune vague après la pluie

“Look how grand you are! Your dreams have come true. I had a different dream, it was a nightmare.”

Ohama spoke these terrible words to Tobei on the verge of despair, in the raw light of the whorehouse where she had ended up, while he was fulfilling his dream: to become a samurai. “My fall is the price of your success,” she says to him in Mizoguchi’s film, where men sell their women rather than their soul to the devil for their own advancement – but are they truly aware of what they are doing? Mizoguchi had witnessed it with his own eyes, having been mortified as a young boy to see his elder sister sold as a geisha, and to know that it was thanks to the money won by her sacrifice that he was able to become an artist.

We follow the story of two men, Genjuro the potter and Tobei the aspiring samurai. One day, in the peaceful and remote village of Kitaomi, the people learn that war is breaking out. This is bad news for their women folk, Miyagi and Ohama, but for men it is a unique opportunity to escape their daily lives and find a better life. For that they must leave for the big city, despite the dangers; they will have to cross a lake where pirates roam and to dice with death; they will have to head into the unknown. Are they taking a risk? Yes, but a lesser one, perhaps, than if they stayed behind; and, as for the migrants who set sail across the Mediterranean Sea in makeshift boats, there is no danger too great to stop those dreaming of another life. So they set off, with their women and children, for a journey that will change the lives of these five characters in search of themselves. War is brewing, hastening their fate, but the story is mostly about the conflicts amongst themselves – the men dreaming of wealth and glory, the women who refuse to believe it – and their inner strife. Amid this great upheaval, each character finds himself confronted with his own contradictions: Genjuro, the head of the family, says he is leaving to get a better life for his wife, Miyagi, and their child, Genichi, and at the same time, the rage that has taken hold of him suggests that it is perhaps it is more about his own fulfilment, a longing for recognition. Tobei seems to be a prisoner of a nagging, self-centred obsession, but he will confess to Ohama that he has come all this way to win her admiration. As for the women, they do not content themselves with playing the role of victims or doom-mongers: they are bored, too, in the village, and they, too, long for something else, not least that their men will change. Miyagi comes across as the homemaker, content with life as it is, yet she admits in the end that she dreamed Genjura was a different man.

These two couples clash and enlighten each other, part and come together again, in the course of a chain of conflicting desires, decisions and accidents, at the end of which each person will be transformed. There are the complications of their desires; money, fear, hope and truth mingling with lies; magnificent and then painful revelations. But the transformation comes mostly from other people, those they meet when crossing the lake, and in the city: a wandering soul, ironic market vendors, an army major, a priest like a drug dealer; and, above all, with a princess and femme fatale, Wakasa, accompanied by an insidious maidservant who beguiles Genjuro to the point that he forgets his old life. As in Mizoguchi’s film, ghosts play a crucial role in this story, and, in the light of the pale moon, they are sometimes more real than the living; in a way, they are even their imaginary doubles. The mysterious, sensual Wakasa may be the opposite of the gentle mother Miyagi, but nothing is simple as it seems, and she, too, is a kind of fantasy which Genjuro must encounter in order to find himself, and thereby his wife. There is an initiatory dimension in these tales, a journey that each person must make, in an individual, sentimental reconstruction.

And then there’s Genichi, the little boy who plays, and waits and cries, who watches the world of adults from a distance and wishes he could be part of it, and who will be, in the end. It is perhaps in his silence that all of the words and all of the music in Contes de la lune vague après la pluie take root.