Kaguyahime, the moon princess, descends down to Earth with a message of peace and spirituality. Her incredible beauty inspires love and desire, and many men vie for her hand. She refuses them, knowing that her time on Earth is limited, and she is secretly in love with the Emperor, Mikado. A war breaks out and the inhabitants of Kaguyahime’s village are forced to defend themselves against a nobleman and his warriors. Her time on Earth finished, the moon princess must leave her adoptive parents and the Emporer and she reascends back to the moon cloaked in a golden mantle.
The Opera de Paris showed it’s premier yesterday evening, of their version of this timeless Japanese tale, with Marie-Agnès Gillot dancing the title role. Clothed in a glowing white unitard she carefully and gracefully moved through Jiri Kylian’s astonishing choreography. The entire spectacle moves with a fluidity that is painstakingly practiced and perfected. The décor and lighting (done by Michel Simon) harmonizes so well with the dancers and the music that is represents a seamless flow of artistry and creative ideas that the spectator is carried away by each and every moment of this amazing show.
In reality there were two spectacles in one, the dancers and the orchestra. The music composed by Maki Ishii is dominated by percussionists, who execute a dance of their own as the beat their large base drums in a choreographed unison.
But the dancers were obviously the most thrilling. In an almost unstoppable movement they performed a story punctuated by more than just pirouettes and jetés, they were characters, letters even, from a Japanese parchment paper telling a story that has endured for almost two thousand years. Their bodies took on forms that traditional classical and modern dance do not know.
Run, fly, but do not wander slowly to see this masterpiece. You will not be disappointed. It lasts until the 15th of July on selected dates only, at the Opera de Paris, Bastille.