Moon Troupe "Elisabeth" Round-Table

From Kageki, June 2009

Translated by Jen

 

Members: Koike Shuuichirou (Director/Script Adaption), Yoshida Youko (Music Director), Kiba Takeshi (Interviewer), Sena Jun, Koshino Ryuu, Kiriya Hiromu, Hanase Mizuka, Isshiki Ruka, Ryouga Haruhi, Ken Ruisu, Kiryuu Sonoka, Mihou Aya, Aoki Izumi, Shirosaki Ai, Ryuu Masaki, Asumi Rio, Hazakura Shizuku (Moon), Nagina Ruumi (Cosmos)

 

Kiba: The Moon Troupe Grand Theater production, a Mitsui-Sumitomo Visa Musical “Elisabeth,” will run from May 22nd to June 22nd. First put on in 1996, it has been performed by all troupes, for 708 performances and an audience count of over 1.7 million people—a vaunted work from the Revue’s 95 years of history with outstanding popularity. This time 91 performances are scheduled (including two shinjin kouen), meaning that by closing night in the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater, the number of performances will reach 799. This will be Moon Troupe’s second time performing the musical, following a 2005 production, but after a span of four years all of the principal roles have changed, and I believe the feeling of the production varies greatly. This time, the role of Elisabeth is performed by Cosmos Troupe’s Nagina Ruumi, in a guest appearance. Thank you, everyone, for coming.

 

Koike: Four years since the last Moon Troupe one, this is our seventh production of “Elisabeth,” so that I believe a great number of our audience has seen “Elisabeth,” and I certainly believe there are many people who saw Sena-san in particular in Moon Troupe’s first production. I’d like them to find fresh things in it to strike them, and to have them discover an appeal, that “this is a show I can see however many times and still enjoy.” Of course I also want people seeing it for the first time to be moved. I think it’s very difficult, both for the staff and for the ones acting, to pile on another production in such a short time since the last. However, that is something that everyone before them has also had to surmount, and in this way we can make a boast of the circumstances of the number of performances and audience members. For a work like “Elisabeth,” it is certain that everyone who sees it has their own views on it, and as an answer for that, I think it best if you can present it so that they think of things like, “so this is how they’ve created it,” “this is how they interpreted it,” “I see.” In order to do that, everyone is currently working hard day and night, wanting to create the 2009 Moon Troupe “Elisabeth.”

 

Yoshida: Going through a production like “Elisabeth,” everyone can change. This is something said of doing every production; I feel that through the music you can think deeply about the work and everyone’s level is raised by doing that, and you always achieve a synergism which improves the show. Also, it hasn’t been so long since Moon Troupe’s earlier performance and everyone knows the melodies rather well, so that while usually everyone is fully occupied following their own music only, I think now they can listen to the others’ melodies as well. The music in this show is assembled like a puzzle, and this time everyone can understand and feel that… And when everyone understands that, I think they can convey that intent to the audience.

 

 

The Evolving World of Elisabeth

 

Koike: Asako (Sena) has appeared in three versions of “Elisabeth”, but for each production I think she was able to see it differently. Her roles were different as well, but her own experiences were different because her position [in the troupe] continued to change.

 

Sena: That’s true. I think this show is one which continues to evolve, as a Flower Troupe member in ’02 and in the first performance by Moon Troupe… well, although not all that much time has passed by since that first Moon Troupe one (laughs), every time the things that sensei told me went to greater and greater heights, and it feels as if the characters are maturing. The staff’s instructions as well – to use Lucheni as an example, the Lucheni I played in Flower Troupe has become a much deeper character, and I don’t think I got such detailed feedback back then. So there is much more to think about now.

 

Koike: It may have looked that way to the Asako you were then, but I suspect the upperclassmen were really thinking things through. I think perhaps during your time in Flower Troupe, the things that the staff were telling you weren’t so different. But your way of looking at things is.

 

Sena: I wonder if the upperclassmen then watched me and were irritated. My comprehension was superficial, and although now I understand the words you were directing at Lucheni, back then I didn’t understand at all. I truly feel that “Elisabeth” is a work that expands through everyone: staff, audience, and us. That’s why I feel like the essence has become difficult to see, and I want to play a simple Der Tod. Isn’t it as if the audience members have also become critics of “Elisabeth”? I think there really are many viewpoints and many ways to grasp it, but I’d like to do a Der Tod and Moon Troupe “Elisabeth” that, if only in one part, causes you to think, “Ah, so this is how they came to it?”

 

Koike: Youko-sensei (Yoshida) said this earlier, but I also think that the way everyone in Moon Troupe approaches this show changed after they did “Elisabeth” the first time. This time, what kind of Der Tod are you aiming for, Asako? ‘Simple’ in what sense?

 

Sena: Able to convey emotions straightforwardly… Not through objects you see, not through actions… I want to stay true to the spirit of the music which Youko-sensei speaks of. I’d like to convey through that music of many genres (ballads and rock, pop), which seem to encompass so many emotions, I think. That’s it at the most elemental, that’s my goal. Why “Last Dance” is rock, why “Rondo of Love and Death” is that kind of ballad…? I want to stay true to the spirit of the music and its roots. This is true for Kacha (Nagina) who is playing Elisabeth now, but when I played Elisabeth and it became emotional I couldn’t sing well. That balance is extremely difficult. Even just watching Kacha I can really empathize, and I’ve started to cry when watching her…. The musical staff told me this, when I was playing Elisabeth, but during the song you’re caught up in the emotions. I was always trying to sing and ended up delayed from the score in the places where I had to give off nuance. At any rate, first sing as the score was written, and by doing that, by expressing the emotions that the music holds, I learned a lot. I learned that, and I’m playing Der Tod this time, but I feel that Der Tod is the same.

 

Koike: I think the biggest change as a result of Takarazuka doing “Elisabeth” is a great flexibility in how we face singing and the music; I think it’s become positive. In the past, how you were going to sing was set beforehand. I’m digressing, but last year one of the sound engineers told me that the seito’s singing has become really good, compared to the past, and I was a little surprised. The J-pop they listen to is also evolving, and evolving in its tones and rhythms. By doing a work like “Elisabeth” your own weaknesses become clear, and you start to learn how to sing not in your own style, but in the style contained in the music. Well then, Nagina-san.

 

Nagina: Right now my state is that I’m full of my own concerns and haven’t been able to look around myself at all. From Sena-san I’ve received the advice to keep it simpler, which I didn’t understand well at the time, but I’ve been learning a lot since then…. At the very beginning when I received the score, there were so many songs, and it was all singing, and a female role, and I wondered what on earth I would do, then decided to start by tackling the songs. But when it came time to enter rehearsals, I had to do it myself, I had to do something, I had to make it look like a female role, I had to make it look like Elisabeth, I became so wrapped up in me, that I couldn’t hear the music at all… Since then I’ve gone back a little to the origin, to the personality that makes the songs, to the emotions, and thought that I would have to be more true to them. When trying to do this in practice… it’s difficult.

 

Koike: So far as voice quality goes, yours is high, so you can produce the current range easily, and doesn’t it ring out?

 

Yoshida: When you use your natural voice, it suits you.

 

Koike: How does it look from where you are, Asako? Kacha’s Elisabeth?

 

Sena: I understand the feeling quite well of worrying at Elisabeth’s emotions, and being unable to project your voice because of that, so even if I tell Kacha to “use this emotion here” or to do it with a certain feel, I think it would just become overwhelming, so for now we’ll just rehearse together with a sense of watching out for the singing, and singing as well and with as good a fit as possible.

 

Koike: Is there a moment when, as Der Tod, you decide you’ll follow Elisabeth forever? Or has that sense not materialized yet?

 

Sena: Yes (laughs). When we were creating the performance before and rehearsing, in the very last scene where we rise up [to heaven], when Der Tod and Elisabeth suddenly rise up out of the smoke, the first time I saw that wonderful setting…. Because of the lighting we can’t see the audience at all, so it really is only a world for the two of them. When Elisabeth comes and clings to Der Tod, it’s a really joyful feeling, and so I want to take care of that feeling.

 

Nagina: I’ll try my best.

 

Yoshida: Takarazuka’s “Elisabeth” is made romantically and emotionally. The original Vienna version isn’t—it’s quite bitter and dry—and there are moments where the flow of emotions is deliberately dammed by the music. That’s done by the tight rhythms. For Takarazuka, the emotions must flow, so that we completely disregard that damming and yet can sing while sticking closely to the rhythms, which is very interesting.

 

Koike: That’s true.

 

Yoshida: When trying to bring out emotions in a work which was originally created in that way, it’s quite a stretch. That’s why the conflict emerges, and you become unable to sing.

 

Nagina: Yes.

 

Koike: Well then, the emperor, Franz Joseph.

 

Kiriya: Four years ago I played Lucheni, and now to play Franz Joseph, the one character that I mocked the most whenever he appeared…. “The things you do to others will come back to you.” (laughs)

 

Sena: They’re coming back. (laughs)

 

Kiriya: It’s a rather complex state of mind (laughs). When I was playing Lucheni, the fact that Franz loved Elisabeth so earnestly couldn’t help but be amusing to Lucheni, and couldn’t help but seem ridiculous. But, surprisingly, while playing Franz – Lucheni doesn’t bother him at all. So I thought: “Ah, great.”

 

Koike: But that’s because you can’t see him. (laughs)

 

Kiriya: I can’t see him so he doesn’t bother me at all.

 

Sena: So it’s not funny at all.

 

Kiriya: I think Franz loved Elisabeth with all his heart. I suspect that he really didn’t know what to make of Elisabeth going off on her flighty travels, but his allowing her that freedom is probably the shape his love took. I don’t know whether that’s what you’d call a deep love or not. That alone was the thing that hit Franz Joseph hard in his heart, yet I hear he lived to be 86, so I think he had strong nerves, and was someone who could shrug off various problems.

 

Koike: But from the moment when this man chooses Elisabeth to be his empress, he first begins to spread his wings. Comparatively, he lived his life very seriously as a government official; it was only in this that he strayed slightly.

 

Kiriya: Why is that, right? A moment of aberration?

 

Koike: For Franz, he was under a lot of pressure from his mother Sophie, and I suppose becoming the emperor was a terrible prospect. Even as emperor he was unhappy; it was a troublesome and very unpleasant role. In the middle of all that he wanted just one thing that wasn’t, and there he saw Elisabeth, who loved her freedom, shining blindingly.

 

Kiriya: He probably felt that here was something he lacked himself. Speaking musically, I always come back to thinking how exceedingly difficult it is with “Elisabeth” to compromise between the emotions in the music and my own emotions. There are just too many extraneous notes and rhythms. Rather than bringing the role closer to myself, of course I’d rather want to bring myself closer to the role, so right now I’m still in the middle of working to bring about that compromise. I wonder why it's so difficult.

 

Koike: In a good sense, I think it’s because you’re grappling and overcoming the hurdles yourselves.

 

Kiriya: I think it’s positive if everyone’s expectations are deflated and we rehearse.

 

Koike: Franz has his timid side, wouldn’t you say? A fragility, a tendency to worry deeply. I think it’s good if that can appear lovable. It’s splendid.

 

Kiriya: Right now the way I’m performing has a little too much gravitas.

 

Koike: Weakness or inexperience would—

 

Sena: Ahahahahaha (laughs).

 

Kiriya: What?

 

Sena: Kiriyan (Kiriya) isn’t inexperienced, so it can’t be helped.

 

Kiriya: No, no, it’s not like that.

 

Koike: The inexperience of humanity, the inexperience of a perfect son, is the point. Well then, Franz’s mother Sophie, played by Shirosaki Ai-san. This is her second time as Sophie, the first in the shinjin kouen (2005).

 

Shirosaki: This time as well there are many, many places.... When I was an underclassman Youko-sensei taught me that the notes and rhythms written in the score are the hearts of the people. I remember that, and now I realize the truth of it. This is my first time playing the mother in a real show (honkouen, i.e.- not shinjin kouen), and because my son Franz is so steady I have to become even steadier myself. Regardless of her own wishes, Sophie was able to marry into the imperial household where she must have had hardships, but she decided to make a life there, and felt that she would protect the nation for the sake of her son. And she had a vocation that—in contrast to all the people before her who had worked to create the history of the Habsburg line—she would not allow it to end because of her actions.... I don’t want to put up the facade of a person who believes that, or the facade of a mother; I want to be able to give a performance which allows you to feel these things.

 

Koike: What do you think of her being called “the only real man in the palace”?

 

Shirosaki: That’s because of her core strength, the strength of a mother, I suppose. The time when the mother of the condemned man makes her appeal and she has Franz reject it, she did it for the nation, and I suppose it probably hurt her heart. But when she makes her first entrance she’s introduced as “the only real man in the palace,” and I wonder if that, by itself, might be no good....

 

Koike: After all, the condemned man’s mother was an enemy, so I don’t think her heart was moved. If she acknowledged otherwise, if her base was shaken, if she couldn’t blow aside or trample things, she couldn’t preserve the nation. For her, all of her opinions are correct. Elisabeth is unsuitable in her goal to see her son firmly raised up to the imperial throne. The empress’s duty is to embody the establishment of that day and age. Well then, Elisabeth’s father Duke Max.

 

Koshino: More than anything, I want the bright scene between Elisabeth and Max to succeed, to be able to show those seeing the musical for the first time how she was raised with freedom. Elisabeth: the daughter who takes after him. It’s difficult to express in such a short time his feelings of opposition to allowing her to leave in marriage, going out into a world where the word “freedom” doesn't apply to women, but my main focus is projecting a father’s love, a familial love that wants to be able to give Elisabeth her freedom.

 

Koike: What do you think Elisabeth has in common with her father?

 

Nagina: Her pursuit of freedom, and various interests they have in common.

 

Koike: There’s nothing else? Max and Elisabeth’s first song “Like Papa” establishes their communication.

 

Nagina: They both tend to be forward-moving people, and you think their paths intersect, but they pass by each other.

 

Koike: I think that is a point. Actually, while seeming to think of his family, the father doesn’t think of anyone but himself. Countess Ludovika, what do you think of your husband Max?

 

Mihou: Max irritates her (laughs). But she’s more interested in seeing her daughters married into good positions than in Max. It’s a family that really does as it pleases, I’d say.

 

Koike: As a princess of the Bayern royal family, Ludovika must feel as if she has come to be the wife of an outlandish man. How about Max’s thoughts on Ludovika?

 

Koshino: Although it wasn’t a love match, Ludovika is generous in granting him his freedom, so I think they’ve come to love each other moderately. Myself, I’m not playing him as a man who wants to run away from her.

 

Koike: I could see that, I suppose. I suspect if Max were more Bohemian, that part of him that thinks only of himself and matches Elisabeth's wavelength would also come out more. It’s best to make it known that it’s a different world than the one Sophie inhabits. Well then, what sense of Sophie can we get from her younger sister Ludovika?

 

Mihou: Sophie and Ludovika are a city person and a country person, and when Ludovika meets Sophie for the first time in a long time, Sophie is more polished than the memory she had drawn in her head. As Ludovika sees her, although Sophie was her older sister it’s as if she’s become a stranger. Because of all the time that’s passed, perhaps? During their meeting it feels more and more as if Ludovika is currying favor with her... well, she’s a frightening older sister (laughs).

 

Koike: Well then, Franz’s son Rudolph. Let’s have Mama introduce the young Rudolph as played by Hazakura. What kind of child is he?

 

Nagina: As an heir he’s a little weak, and he’s a little weak in body as well. He received such cruel corporal punishment that she took him back into her own care....

 

Koike: Compared to how desperate she was to take him back from Sophie, she doesn’t really look after him, does she?

 

Hazakura: To Rudolph, Elisabeth is the one who saved him from the place where he was being beaten. A parent, but...

 

Kiriya: Yes, that was written in some book. For Rudolph, that event triggered his adoration of his mother.

 

Hazakura: Rudolph also yearned for his beautiful mother, he wanted to always be beside her, but she was never there, and the desire to follow her grew. I’ve wanted to play a boy role, so playing Rudolph makes me very happy. In the Viennese version, I hear the role is played by a boy from the Vienna Boys Chorus, so I think that there is a necessary clarity. I also have to be careful to not move in a ladylike way, and want to be as boyish as possible now.

 

Sena: Your expression when you sang: “I killed a cat~” is…. Waahhh, creepy!” I thought (laughs). “Shizuku, you’re a bit creepy,” I said. You were expressing a boy who was a little emotionally disturbed, weren’t you?

 

Hazakura: Yes.

 

Koike: The emotions come through first, don’t they? It’s one scene, but it’s a moment of strong impact.

 

Yoshida: When trying to put forth a voice conveying a boy, your voice was more otokoyaku than child, and because of that there was a gap between that and the high notes— figuring out how to use your voice is the number one problem now, I think.

 

Hazakura: Yes.

 

Koike: As Rudolph, what do you think he wants to be when he grows up?

 

Hazakura: Although he’s only a boy, he feels that he’s going to have to inherit the imperial line, but watching Franz it seems terribly difficult, so I don’t think he wants to be the heir, deep in his heart. But I think he wants to become an emperor who is respected when it does happen.

 

Koike: Well then, adult Rudolph. That role is played in turn by three actresses; let’s start from Asumi.

 

Asumi: Rudolph wants to do something about the crumbling House of the Habsburgs, but his father won’t work with him at all. He can’t do as he hoped, and he has a lot of problems as crown prince.

 

Koike: Well then, at the moment, what does Der Tod think of Asumi-Rudolph?

 

Sena: This doesn’t just relate to Mirio (Asumi) but all three: in rehearsals for the various Rudolphs, out of the three times we do it, they each get only once so it feels like everything is staked on that one time. Everyone is working straightforwardly and like mad. That desperate individuality is quite different, and very interesting. I think in it we can see what makes each of their Rudolphs.

 

Koike: How are they different?

 

Sena: Mirio seems to be a very high-strung Rudolph (laughs). He feels the closest to Elisabeth.

 

Koike: Yes. Well then, Morie (Aoki). Do you feel Rudolph’s cares?

 

Aoki: Fundamentally, Rudolph lacks love from the people around him.... I think a basic element of humanity is wanting to be loved, but I think because of his environment that aspect of his personality changed more and more. Rudolph’s desire to be loved warped the foundation of his humanity, and in a way his continued lack of occupation as well. Even after he became an adult his way of thinking differed from Franz’s, which meant that although he wanted to live his life in a certain way Franz would not go hand-in-hand with him on government matters, and finally even there he could find no value in his own existence. It feels as if he was always conflicted and agonizing over something.

 

Koike: In the previous shinjin kouen you played Der Tod. How did you see Rudolph at the time?

 

Aoki: To Der Tod, I suppose Rudolph is a tool he can use to get Elisabeth.

 

Koike: A tool!? (laughs)

 

Aoki: Der Tod discovers that Rudolph is wandering in his free time; he insinuates himself and in the end there is no one left but Elisabeth to turn to. He enters through the chink in Rudolph’s heart, and while saying that he’ll save him from his weaknesses, he brings him along a course of his own, so that now for Rudolph there is nothing to see but human weakness.

 

Koike: I think it’s good that you can see that he didn’t deliberately create that weakness, but expanded upon it. Well then, Ahi (Ryouga).

 

Ryouga: I think that the degree of love that boys have for their mothers is very high, isn’t it? All the more when they become adults, so now we are rehearsing and I haven’t yet pulled out from the depths of my own heart the way Rudolph felt about his mother and the loneliness and solitude that came from that, so I have to cultivate that. Not only that, I have to bring forth his feelings of wanting to do something about the Habsburgs: his number one premise. Rudolph can’t comprehend why, by only being born, he will inherit the position of emperor and be elevated above others. I think his ability to bring himself down to eye-level with the populace, despite his heritage, is his most excellent feature.

 

Sena: I think Ahi’s Rudolph has an excellent balance between the loneliness brought forth by his attachment to his mother and his despair over the government. Being too attached to Elisabeth is a little wrong, I think, and Rudolph's loneliness is an unrecognized loneliness. Not just by his mother, but by the nation.

 

Koike: I think Franz and Rudolph have a lot in common. But, no matter the era, there will always be a generation gap. As the son of Elisabeth, he’s inherited her blood, so I think he has a desire to escape to places where he can have “freedom.” Of course his own home was important to him, but he seems to have had an interest in going out. Moreover, he liked quite offbeat things, so he became acquainted with Zeps and the others working for a revolution. Well then, Isshiki Ruka, playing Zeps, how do you see and interact with Rudolph, as a friend?

 

Isshiki: Revolution, for Rudolph, is something to prevent the collapse of the Habsburgs, and the revolutionaries want independence for their own nation, and to protect their own pride. So I’ve thought about what Zeps’ reason is for getting involved in the revolution: he was a persecuted Jew. That isn't mentioned on the Takarazuka stage, but... Also, he’s a newspaper reporter, so he’s different from the other revolutionaries in that as well, so he must have a wide viewpoint. When they met Rudolph, despite his being the crown prince he understood their thoughts, and his foresight was captivating, and it seemed to them that setting him up in a high position would result in the realization of their dreams. Although the same age difference is between them as between parent and child, they became comrades so that although their purposes differ, I think there can be something stronger binding them together.

 

Koike: The triple-cast Rudolphs also play revolutionary roles.

 

Ryouga: I play one of the revolutionaries, Elmer Batthyany, but when Rudolph appeared on the scene I don’t believe that Elmer thought as far as raising him up and using him. He’s not such a clever person; he’s a person moved by emotions and deeds. On the other hand, Zeps is an intellectual, so I think that's why Elmer’s all, “Great!” and collaborates together with him.

 

Aoki: I play the revolutionaries Elmer and Stephan Karoly, and the character of each of the revolutionaries is completely different, which makes it really interesting. The intellectuals and the emotionals—when cooking up tactics during the revolution, I think all kinds of balances would come out of their joint efforts.

 

Asumi: I play Stephan. The revolutionaries take a gamble with Rudolph, because of his unique connection to the Habsburg emperor, which is why I think it’s good to play up the element of their highest wish being to make Rudolph emperor. It feels that they have become tied to how Rudolph is portrayed. As for how Rudolph saw the revolutionaries, he had to do something to live up to their expectations, and I think it must have been another thing added to his defeats.

 

Koike: I think by playing revolutionaries, you could objectively capture a more 3-dimensional Rudolph in your performances. Now then, one of the Habsburg senior statesmen: Count Grunne.

 

Ken: I think Grunne is someone who lived with quite a sordidly human side to him. He can’t oppose Sophie, so he spends all his time supporting her wholeheartedly. From the beginning Sophie had a strong sense of the traditions of the Habsburgs, and has a strong core to her, so that Grunne feels compelled to go along with her, and yet because he was being pulled along by that strength in her core, he had no status of his own, but worked on her behalf. I don’t think he actually respected her.

 

Koike: That’s true. Politicians everywhere have their power games, don’t they? Well then, let’s go to Sztaray.

 

Hanase: Sztaray is a Hungarian whom Elisabeth chooses herself to be her lady-in-waiting, so her way of thinking is certainly different from the ladies’ maids who work for Sophie, and more than politics she works to take care of Elisabeth. She also accompanies her on her travels in her twilight years, so I want to perform while feeling her love for Elisabeth. Elisabeth is strong-willed and always plunging forward, or at any rate involved in some conflict, but I wonder sometimes if she wasn’t certain what was best to be done.

 

Koike: Can she sense that there is something secretly pulling Elisabeth along?

 

Hanase: Der Tod, you mean?

 

Koike: Yes, that shadow.

 

Hanase: I don’t think she does.

 

Koike: How about that Elisabeth is waiting for death?

 

Hanase: She feels that.

 

Koike: She travels, but without a purpose. When they are moving about together I feel like it would make the performance even more interesting to see what kinds of emotions you go on with in those places. Well then, Kiryuu-san, who plays a Black Angel. This is your second “Elisabeth,” isn’t it?

 

Kiryuu: Actually, this is the third I’ve appeared in. I was with Cosmos’ when I was a ken-1.

 

Koike: Ah, that’s right.

 

Kiryuu: In Flower Troupe’s I played a Black Angel, but this time I’ve become the highest upperclassman among the Black Angels. I thought I would re-read the script once more and it would be best to differ freely in the way I captured it and the method of expressing it, but in the end I made it to a place where I wanted one point. I want to express with our bodies that we’re the right hand of Der Tod (played by Asako), and I want everyone’s dance to fit not the count, but the lyrics. We’ll set the dance numbers to the lyrics, such as in “Dance of Death” when we’re playing with Rudolph and he tries to escape—we say “wait!” as we dance (laughs). Because, if we’re thinking there: “please wait a moment” as we dance, that would be quite a discrepancy. We confirm for everyone “what are you feeling in this moment?” as we dance. We have to listen closely to the songs while dancing, so we’re keyed up every day.

 

Koike: The Black Angels are dancers, but I think it’s very good that you realize how extremely essential the acting is as well. Well then, lastly, Ryuu-san in the role of Luigi Lucheni.

 

Ryuu: It’s an epic which has been restaged repeatedly, so I’m aware of very strong stereotypes and preconceived notions that I hold, which means it’s most important for me to clear those away first. Then there is the difference between power and energy—I feel that I am very bad at how I express power. On the surface of the role, Lucheni isn’t interacting with people, but with thin air, and the majority of the scenes are like that so I want to follow through on the significance of that in the role. I think if I do that Lucheni will be stronger, and I also will be for struggling with this show, so I want to do it right.

 

Koike: In the previous Moon Troupe version Lucheni was played by Kiriya-sempai. What do you think?

 

Kiriya: I think it’s important to make it look like everything is being driven by Lucheni, but Ryuu is still young in terms of years in the Revue, so she might seem to not have the breadth, and if that happens I think she might not be able to make her presence felt…

 

Koike: How should you give off breadth?

 

Kiriya: How should you have breadth?

 

Sena: Are you asking me (laughs)?

 

Kiriya: Well, I don’t know!

 

Sena: Experiences (laughs).

 

Kiriya: Ahh! (laughs)

 

Koike: When you did Lucheni, Asako, you were young but conversely you seemed to have breadth.

 

Sena: Eh, not at all! I (it’s awful to say) was entirely derisive, and contemptuous. Of Franz and Der Tod. Lucheni knows the story’s conclusion, so everything seems ridiculous to him. However, he’s human. Showing breadth by mocking everything around you—I think that’s a Lucheni who is bluffing. What do you think? Kiryuu played him in the shinjin kouen. And there she is waving (laughs).

 

Kiryuu: Lucheni is the role that made me love singing.

 

Sena: Me too.

 

Kiryuu: Watching from the very beginning as Masao (Ryuu) changes more and more is really interesting.

 

Yoshida: Lucheni, particularly, is a role that can be created from various angles, so I think it’s best to try all kinds of things freely in the rehearsals. But the person playing Lucheni is always troubled, because till the very, very end there are moments when everything changes during rehearsals. If you try various things under pressure, something can be created, don’t you think?

 

Ryuu: Yes. I often get the advice “7 meanings, 3 emotions” from Koike-sensei, and as rehearsals pile up I’ve come to understand the meaning of those words. Lucheni exists to move the story forward, well then you perform with the sense you want to propel it along…. Bit by bit the moments that I can feel as Lucheni would are increasing, and so because my senses are open absorbing various things from my environment, I feel that I can add to what I’m creating.

 

Koike: Lastly, the finale will flow the same as the others before it. The Sena plus onnayaku number will be a Latin arrangement of “When I Dance,” and the music’s image has completely changed. The duet dance number is a habanera arrangement of “Last Dance” with a heavy passionate feel, such as you’d expect with Sena Jun.

 

 

The Present Moon Troupe’s “Elisabeth”

 

Koike: This time, Asako has said that Der Tod is something she has long-awaited. But is there some part of this present Moon Troupe’s “Elisabeth” that you’d like to tell people to watch?

 

Sena: In our very first vocal rehearsal the thing that I felt the most was that for folks who did it four years ago, there were many songs which were familiar, and it was easy to slip into that world. But for the underclassman for whom that wasn’t the case, they seemed to be having a very fun vocal rehearsal and I was really happy. Of course there are those who fell in love with the show and entered the Revue, and watching those kids’ eyes sparkle while singing really made it fresh for me again. They really broadcast how much they had wanted to be in this show and how great they thought the scenes were. I hope you can look forward to this “Elisabeth,” which captures that fresh spirit encouraged by those kids.

 

Koike: So not as an extension of the Moon Troupe performance four years ago, but as a work made new again.

 

Sena: In rehearsals I really think it—for example, there are people like Ai-chan (Shirosaki) doing the roles that they did in the shinjin kouen, but these also are fresh again.

 

Koike: “Elisabeth” is a dark work with amazing energy. Right now in rehearsals people might be taking to the darkness a bit too much. Don’t you think so? All of the characters were powerful while they were alive, people who threw themselves into carrying out their lives with all their might. I think it might be better if those things were shown a bit more actively. Instead of being so humble, emit more, please. Everyone, take up the issues here—doing so might be difficult, but somehow you’ll find the breach, and this isn’t something that you’ll find only during rehearsals. This was a theory-heavy peek, but when you’ve digested it all I think you should be able to express your roles clearly. As for the music, ride the songs but don’t just sing well; you have to blend them with your role….

 

Yoshida: Well, being able to do that is one of the strengths of Takarazuka. Being able to sing, dance, and act.

 

Koike: That’s what I’d like to see you try your hardest at. If you don’t do anything difficult then you won’t be able to reach new heights. I look forward to the finished product!

 

All: Thank you!