OBC cellist: 'Japan and the audiences have changed a lot since 1992'
Musicians from Catalan National Orchestra give their impressions as their five-week Japanese tour picks up steam
"Spontaneous" and "enthusiastic" is how two musicians from the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra (OBC) describe the audiences in Japan, as the Catalan national orchestra gets its summer tour of the Asian country underway.
Cellist Lourdes Duñó and double bassist Apostol Kosev are among the OBC's 92 members who are set to perform 16 concerts in the cities of Tokyo, Otsu, Sapporo, Nagoya and Hiroshima during their five-week visit to Japan.
The orchestra's tour began with providing the music for a new version of the opera Turandot, by La Fura dels Baus director Àlex Ollé. Performing to full houses, the Catalan production is part of the celebrations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The reason why the national orchestra finds itself on this tour of Japan -one of the longest it has ever done- is because the OBC's musical director is Japanese conductor Kazushi Ono, who conceived the Summer Festival Opera 2019-20 that Turandot is part of.
"You can see that [Ono] is home, he is more relaxed and that helps us to get to know him better. That will be good for the years that are left working with him," Duñó tells the Catalan News Agency about the OBC head.
"Audiences are more enthusiastic"
It is not only the conductor who is different. Duñó was in Japan with the OBC in 1992 and 1995, and she says today's public does not seem so "cold": "They are reacting really well, those who came here before are seeing that people are more enthusiastic," she says.
"They are reacting really well, those who came here before are seeing that people are more enthusiastic"
Lourdes Duñó · Cellist for OBC
"Those who came [on our 1992 tour] see a Japan that has changed a lot, both the country and the audience. In the past it was colder, waiting for someone to clap, but not now. The audiences are more spontaneous," Duñó adds.
That is true of the people who turned out to see the world premiere of Turandot and the performances that followed. Monday saw the last of the opera's seven performances in Tokyo, and it received a full 10 minutes of applause from the "euphoric" audience.
As for OBC double bassist Kosev, he points to the high quality of the venues the orchestra is playing in, describing them as "very good" and with optimal acoustics for the musicians and the "fantastic" vocalists they have accompanied.
Kosev also praises the audiences in Japan, describing their reaction as "natural and enthusiastic" and he compares them to the mature audiences found in "the Liceu and other large opera houses." "They know the repertoire and that is very gratifying," he adds.
The OBC tour continues on Wednesday with a symphonic concert at Tokyo's Bunkamura Orchard Hall, with guests, the Japanese Yoshida Brothers. Also performing will be soprano Jennifer Wilson, mezzo Etsuko Kanoh, tenor David Pomeroy, baritone Hidekazu Tsumaya, and the Tokyo Opera Singers choir.