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Talea Ensemble Performs Toshio Hosokawa's Futari Shizuka and George Benjamin's Into the Little Hill at New York's 92Y

Mar. 01, 2020

Talea Ensemble Performs Toshio Hosokawa's <em>Futari Shizuka</em> and George Benjamin's <em>Into the Little Hill</em> at New York's 92Y

On March 7, the Talea Ensemble performed "MYTHOS", a double-bill featuring the US premiere of Toshio Hosokawa's Futari Shizuka and George Benjamin's Into the Little Hill as part of the 92nd Street Y's "Inflection Series". Talea was joined by singers Kerstin Avemo, Charlotte Mundy, Lucy Dhegrae, and acclaimed Noh actress, Ryoko Aoki, all under the direction of James Baker. Alexander Polzin's production featured shadow theatre and Bunraku puppetry, with choreography by Sommer Ulrickson. 

The libretto for Toshio Hosokawa's opera Futari Shizuka [The Two Shizukas], was written by Oriza Hirata based on the Noh play of the same name. In this work, the departed spirit of Shizuka Gozen, or Lady Shizuka, possesses the body and soul of a young, beautiful refugee girl who has journeyed to the Mediterranean Sea and sings of her sorrows for wars and hateful disputes. The opera is sung in both English and Japanese and was originally conceived as a companion to Hosokawa's monodrama The Raven.

(Futari Shizuka/Toshio Hosokawa/Ensemble intercontemporain/Kerstin Avemo, soprano/
Ryoko Aoki, Noh actress/Matthias Pintscher, conductor)

Since its premiere in 2006 by the Ensemble Modern at the Festival d'Automne in Paris, George Benjamin's Into the Little Hill, a lyric setting of the Pied Piper tale for soprano, contralto and an ensemble of 15 players continues to dazzle critics and audiences in Europe and the US. Rupert Christiansen of the Telegraph writes, "this is something quite exceptional, both in the originality of its form and the depth of its inspiration... not a note is wasted, the dramatic pacing is impeccably controlled." Andrew Porter writing in Opera comments, "Into the Little Hill, despite its brevity, lived on for days in my mind and lives on as I write as a 'big' important opera." The work has garnered an impressive array of awards including the Diapason d'Or, the Royal Philharmonic Society Large-Scale Composition Award and the Coup de Coeur' from the Académie Charles Cros.

(Into the Little Hill/George Benjamin/L'Ensemble Modern/Anu Komsi, soprano/
Hilary Summers, contralto/Franck Ollu - conductor)

To learn more about Toshio Hosokawa, visit:
To learn more about George Benjamin, visit:

Toshio Hosokawa
Futari Shizuka (2017)
The Maiden from the Sea
an opera in one act
original text (Jap/Eng) by Oriza Hirata, based on the Noh play Futari Shizuka
for soprano, Noh singer/dancer and orchestra

George Benjamin
Into the Little Hill (2006)
a lyric tale in two parts for soprano, contralto and ensemble of 15 players
fl(pic, bfl).2 basset hn in F.cbcl-2crts.ttrbn-cimbalon-perc-2vn(2.mandolin).2
va(2.banjo).2 vc.db (lowest string tuned to C)