A CLOSER VIEW OF THE CONDUCTOR KEITARO HARADA

A FEELING OF THE MISSION OF CULTURE AND SPIRITUALITY

He is not only one of the young conductors, who win many prizes and are appreciated highly for their professionalism and artistic abilities. He has a feeling of the mission of culture and spirituality in the 21th century. This is the young Japanese conductor Keitaro Harada, who will conduct the premiere of the opera “Carmen” by Georges Bizet on the Sofia stage, as well as the upcoming guest-performance of the Sofia Opera in Japan in 2018.

Keitaro Harada doesn’t stay only in the field of his appearance as conductor. He has given a meaning of his mission to fight for the development of the orchestra as a part of a cultural fabric of the community, a fabric, in which special care is taken for the young persons. The young for the young. Something, which he has realized to be so important today not only as a three-time recipient of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, but also as a student of Lorin Maazel and of other great names.

This is only a small touch to the portrait of the conductor Harada before my meeting with him in the process of the rehearsals of “Carmen”.

THE REHEARSAL

The rehearsal is usually the time, in which one cannot only come to know from inside the process of creation of a spectacle, but it is a possibility to become well acquainted with the persons, who are creating the spectacle.

Somehow naturally before me revealed itself something from Keitaro Harada, the musician and the human being. It made me s strong impression the way, in which he entered into the creative process. Very delicately and carefully, he comes to know the artists, with who he will create the spectacle. When it is needed, without tension or unnecessary intervention he enters in communication with the singers, with curiosity he switches from one stage setting to another and without interruption, he is making notes. He studies as if each reaction of the three different singers in the role of Carmen, in order to be one whole with them. Patiently he waits the stage director’s interruptions and repetitions with the explanations for acting of the episode. He isn’t this kind of conductor, who would spare his efforts or be tired from the coming in till the coming out of the music, he is ready to react quickly with a special gesture. The delicacy and sensibility come to life also in his manual technique. Even though he has worked with so many great names of conductors, impressive with their individual conductor’s writing and manner, Harada doesn’t imitate, he stays true to his feeling, to himself. I noticed the special delicacy in his gestures and behaviour, which are visibly predisposing the singers. A feeling of harmony was somehow reigning in the space and a wish for communication.

In our conversation I saw also the other face of Harada. If at the rehearsals there was some special absorption and concentration, when we started talking, I discovered something very different in him. All at once, his eyes lighted up, the smile and the spontaneity somehow showed the human being Harada, who spontaneously revealed something of himself. From him was springing energy and desire to share not only what concerns his work in the moment, but also how he feels in his meeting with the Sofia Opera.

To my question how does he perceive his work with the three different as artistic naturel singers in the character of Carmen – Nadia Krasteva, Gergana Rusekova and Sanja Anastasia he shared:

- The three singers in the role of Carmen are very good. Each one of them is different. Each of them creates the character according to the director’s conception, but she also imports something from herself, her feeling. All three of them are excellent musicians, clever, attractive, with emanation very close to Carmen. On the stage, they have a strong presence in the conception of this production, which after Wagner’s “Ring” is exceptionally exciting.

- How did you work with these three casts, do you have your own concept about the character of Carmen for this so often performed work by Bizet?

- I have a definite concept about the title and the main character, but I would like to share that I am observing attentively the idea, the conception about the image of this so widely known character and this is leading me. The idea suggests to me how together we can make things, in order to achieve the definite suggestion, which is sought. We all are working, I am underlining together in a harmony, I would say, to receive the total character, which is required.

- What is your experience with this title and what is required from you, in order to have the effect the way it is sought by the director Plamen Kartaloff?

- My last production was with my company in Arizona. It was very different from this one. I begin with each new production like with something absolutely new, I don’t want to compare. I am open to what is born out of the director’s inspiration and my efforts are to develop this story with the orchestra.

Everyone is focused on the stage. I have the feeling that this production will be dark. This means to be shown Carmen’s solitude, I have to manage in suggesting of this idea from the beginning to the end of the spectacle. Something important, which to move the audience.

- What was your first meeting with the orchestra?

- We met several times, we made technical rehearsals, for me the important is they to play the music, not the notes. I continue to encourage them. For example, when Escamillo sees Carmen for the first time, we should lose our breath. This, these moments from the story I want to see in their eyes, because when one plays, must be developed the story from the stage. The message has to be suggested convincingly.

- Is it difficult to involve the orchestra in the director’s idea, in the overall development and suggestion of one spectacle?

- I am feeling myself very well in each production. I always want to enter deep into its conception and it to become moving, and at the end to say to each other – “let’s make it again and again”. My role is to lead the audience in this journey till the closing of the curtain.

- Which was the first opera, which moved you, in which you are somehow in love?

- For me this is “La bohème” by Puccini. The first CD and my first DVD, which I bought once, was with this title. This was for me my introduction in the opera. A similar feeling I have also for “Carmen”, I love very much also “Don Pasquale”, an opera, which is so amusing. I love many others too, but I am feeling somehow very close to the dramatic repertoire – Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Mahler and modern pieces. I don’t make just a definite repertoire, I love the challenges from the Baroque to the 21th century, as for example the music by John Adams, John Williams and others. I make many premieres of contemporary composers. For me it is very important to present also the music of our time, of the 21th century. I will remind that Bizet and his “Carmen” was received as modern, contemporary music.

Dr. MAGDALENA MANOLOVA

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