From the Royal Opera Chorus in Japan – Day 7
It is now very late on Friday night after the La traviata general rehearsal. It was another really beautiful day here and at last it is not so humid but still sunny and very warm, however my mother informs me it is sunny and warm in Scotland too! A very good general rehearsal in Yokahama and what a lovely place it is. None of us were expecting such a delightful venue and it is right next to the sea with a lovely promenade and manicured gardens. It seems to be a rather affluent suburb of Tokyo with lovely streets with some traditional and almost colonial style buildings. Many of us took the opportunity to take the elevator in the Landmark Building in Yokahama to the 69th floor which took a staggeringly short time of 45 seconds!! I believe this is the fastest lift in the world and was truly impressive. There was a 360 degrees viewing platform at the top but sadly Mount Fujii was obscured by a heat haze.
The dressing rooms in the theatre are functional rather than comfortable but as usual we are met with smiles all round. Some choristers arrived by boat from Yokahama interchange much to the envy of us all and when we tried to do the return journey we were informed “no more boats” even though the service seemed to be running! It is so depressing not to have any idea of the language and we all feel somewhat lacking in ability but actually there is not a huge amount of English spoken anywhere that, I for one, have encountered. I am writing this in this my hotel room rather late at night and have just made some tea – I must remember to pack a mug next time as the room only provides a tiny, albeit beautiful Japanese cup for tea and it only holds a thimblefull! Bit of a waste of an Earl Grey tea-bag!
After the La traviata General a group of us girls visited a Japanese Onsen (Spa) which was wonderful. It necessitated a journey on the Yurikamone Line which travels out over Tokyo Bay through the sky-scrapers and then does a loop-the-loop over the water and was truly amazing! This must be the best way to see the Sky-Scrapers and the return journey in the dark was even lovelier. I am not usually so impressed by buildings but this really was something else! The Onsen was fabulous and was a new building in the style of an Edo era Japanese village. It was a touch “kitsch” but so fantastic. There were families and singles of all ages and, though segregated for the actual bathing, had lots to offer in the way of food and entertainment. Most of us enjoyed the foot-bath where our feet were nibbled by little fish feeding from our dry skin! Very tickly but fun! I will do anything for soft skin. We were massaged, pummelled, scrubbed, you name it! Everyone walked around in traditional Japanese robes and we felt as if we were on the set of “Shogun”. We also endured the foot-walk through lovely hot water over stones of various sharpness. It started as “ouch” and finished with a downright “Oh my God how do they do this!”. I was telling our Stage-Management team about the spa and was suddenly aware of the fact that they are all working so hard in both venues and really don’t have the same amount of free time as us in the chorus so I hope they manage a visit. Touring certainly opens ones eyes to how the other departments work!
Yesterday for me consisted of a relaxing morning followed by a visit to a most beautiful garden which was very traditional in style – not huge but so peaceful and calm. There were lots of exquisite Bonsai trees, a 17th century Tea House and best of all a newly-married couple being photographed in the stunning location. The bride was in full Geisha dress and her husband also in traditional attire. I was the only Westerner there and I felt very privileged to be there.
- Yvonne Barclay
All images by Neil Gillespie.