Mr. Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera.
Let's take a look at what some celebrities and those leading in the field of international performing arts say about Kabuki...
Here is an interview with Mr. Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera.
1. Do you remember when you saw Kabuki for the first time? What was your first impression?
The first time I fully appreciated the power of Kabuki, I was at the Sony Classical record label working with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In 1996, Yo-Yo played Bach's Suite No. 5 for Cello at Suntory Hall, with a remarkable dance performance by the great Kabuki artist Tamasaburo Bando. A few years later, in 2000, we made a film of this cello-dance collaboration, and Tamasaburo was once again an extraordinary presence. I also remember that the Metropolitan Opera presented the Grand Kabuki at our opera house in Lincoln Center in 1985. I wasn't involved in that particular project, but I vividly recall the theatrical power of those performances, which featured more than 50 great Kabuki performers.
2. What do you think is the appeal of Kabuki as an entertainment?
Like opera, Kabuki combines many different art forms--dance, theater, music, costume design, set design. I think audiences love this epic marriage of artistic genres. And the larger-than-life elements of Kabuki performances, as well as the stories themselves, make it a compelling art form for generation after generation.
3. Kabuki embraces its 400 years of history and its tradition, while on the other hand, it constantly creates the new production within the context of Kabuki Format. Do you find any similarity / or difference in Kabuki and Opera ?
Absolutely. It is one of my primary goals at the Metropolitan Opera to keep opera moving forward while still honoring its rich traditions. Both opera and Kabuki are vibrant, living forms, and they must evolve and grow and embrace new theatrical techniques, as well as keep pace with the changing tastes of the public. But it is essential to remain true to the essence of these great art forms and respect their histories as we move forward.
4. Any suggestion for those who have never seen Kabuki before?
My suggestion for newcomers to Kabuki is the same one I give to opera neophytes: do a little preparation before you arrive at the theater. One's experience of Kabuki, as with opera, will be improved dramatically if one has some sense of what to expect. Watch a video, listen to a recording, or read the story before the performance--if you put even minimal effort into the Kabuki-going experience, you will be rewarded tremendously.
Under General Manager Peter Gelb's leadership, the Metropolitan Opera has recruited many of the world's great theater directors to complement the musical standards established by Music Director James Levine and launched The Met: Live in HD, which presents live performance transmissions in movie theaters around the world.
At 17, Peter Gelb was an office boy for the impresario Sol Hurok. He became an assistant manager of the Boston Symphony and managed pianist Vladimir Horowitz in the 1980s. He has served as President of CAMI Video and of the Sony Classical record label. He has won six Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.