Culture minister lands in Japan as part of summer charm offensive

Mariàngela Vilallonga attends Catalan production of Turandot in Tokyo in campaign to promote Catalonia's culture, sport, business and tourism

Image of the Catalan National Orchestra's performance of Puccini's 'Turandot' in Tokyo, on July 22, 2019 (by Pau Cortina)
Image of the Catalan National Orchestra's performance of Puccini's 'Turandot' in Tokyo, on July 22, 2019 (by Pau Cortina) / ACN

ACN | Tokyo

July 23, 2019 08:30 AM

Culture minister, Mariàngela Vilallonga, landed in Tokyo on Monday, insisting on the importance of promoting Catalan culture around the world.

One of her first acts in Japan was to attend a performance of the opera, ‘Turandot’, directed by La Fura dels Baus' Àlex Ollé, with music by the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra (OBC).

Vilallonga said it was "extraordinary" that a Catalan production should make its world debut in Japan. Performed in Tokyo's New National Theater, the audience responded with an ovation, something that is far from usual among Japanese operagoers.

Taking part in the Summer Festival Opera 2019-20 conceived by the OBC's musical director, Kazushi Ono, the Catalan orchestra is on a five-week tour of Japan, where it will give 16 concerts in the cities of Tokyo, Otsu, Sapporo, Nagoya and Hiroshima.

On her first official trip to Japan, and her first outside Europe, Vilallonga's visit is part of a charm offensive by Catalonia in the Asian country this summer, with the aim of promoting Catalan culture and business and involving different institutions and organizations.

Art, sport and business

While the culture minister in the next few days goes on to visit the Catalan national gallery's exhibit ‘Barcelona ciutat de miracles artístics’ (Barcelona city of artistic miracles) in Himeji, FC Barcelona are also in Japan for two pre-season matches on July 23 and July 27.

The club will also be joined by government and Barcelona city council representatives at two events in Tokyo and Kobe, called ‘Barcelona Catalonia Talks. Business and Barça,’ to encourage Japanese firms to invest in Catalonia, and to promote tourism.

As well as the promotional events planned, the authorities are also looking for business opportunities and to strengthen trade between Japan and Catalonia, and business minister, Àngels Chacón, will also be in the Asian country to visit major Japanese firms.