Page 1

The Last Tea of Rikyu an opera in three parts for four voices and string quartet

by

Jacob Mashak


Program Notes Sen no Rikyu was the 16th Century Japanese tea master who is widely credited with codifying the art of tea ceremony. In the later portion of his nearly 70 year life he served under the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and it was here that he gained his greatest fame as well as his unfortunate end. At some point, Rikyu's relationship with Hideyoshi soured and Rikyu was sentenced to be executed, which was later commuted to the more honourable seppuku, ritual suicide. History holds several theories as to what happened to cause Hideyoshi's anger: he was forced to walk under a statue of the tea master, he was denied Rikyu's daughter as a concubine, his military tactics were criticized by Rikyu. On his last day, Rikyu gathered around him several of his close friends and students to perform one final tea ceremony. After most of his guests dispersed, he composed a pair of death poems and then ended his life. In The Last Tea of Rikyu there are four embodiments of Rikyu, each one representing a different legend of the undermining of his relation with Hideyoshi. In Part I the ghosts of Rikyu struggle to tell their particular stories, coming into the living plane of existence just long enough to utter a syllable or two. Occasionally one word will pop out above the other utterances, the name: Hideyoshi. By the end of Part I, the ghosts of Rikyu have become whole and begin to relive their last moments on earth. They perform tea ceremony for one another in silence (Part II), recite the death poem (Part III), and ultimately relive the moment of their deaths. The text of Rikyu's poem used here is thus: Welcome to thee, O sword of eternity! Through Buddha And through Daruma alike Thou hast cleft thy way.


Production Notes Cast: Rikyus 1 and 2: countertenor, male voice with strong falsetto or clean, clear woman's voice Rikyu 3: low countertenor or clear, light tenor (the few notes above the staff may be sung with falsetto or an octave bellow) Rikyu 4: clear, light baritone Each Rikyu is dressed in a kimono, and carries a chakim (cloth) and tanto (dagger). In Part I the singers enter almost imperceptibly and fade out almost immediately. Each entrance is coordinated with the same note appearing in the corresponding instrumental part for each singer (Violin I and Rikyu 1, Violin II and Rikyu 2, Viola and Rikyu 3, Violoncello and Rikyu 4). The sung note should begin after the instrumental one begins but may sustain beyond when the instrumental line moves on. The only instances in which the four parts coordinate with one another are the four recitations of Hideyoshi's name divided among the singers (on pages 11, 12, 15 and 19). Their need to sound together outweighs the need for any coordination between the individual singer and their associated instrument. In Part III the singers should remain in their positions at the end of the tea ceremony. This will involve Rikyus 2 and 3 facing somewhat away from the audience and Rikyus 1 and 4 facing toward it. Stage: The string quartet sits in the back center of the stage, at the center of their arch is possibly a stand with a tall vase and a single, morbid flower: a lily, a black rose, something wilted. The tea ceremony of Part II is set up in the center of the stage. At the center is an iron pot filled with water. Each Rikyu should have the following equipment there, as well, for the preparation of tea: chawan / tea bowl chashaku / tea scoop chaki / tea caddy hishaku / bamboo ladle chasen / bamboo whisk The Rikyus sit at the 4 corners of the tea ceremony set up, Rikyu 1 at back stage right, 2 at front right, 3 front left, 4 back left.


 Rikyu 1 

Jacob Mashak

Part I

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

The Last Tea of Rikyu

  

Quiet, rhythmically free for each part, 1 minute per line

Violin I

   

Violin II

Viola

Violoncello

                      

             

          


Rikyu 1

 

Rikyu 3

Vln. I

ge

  

                                      

Vln. II

Vla.

Vc.

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 4

5

 

 

                               


6

Rikyu 1

  

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4



so

  

                                     Vln. I  Vln. II

Vla.

                                                                           

                                      Vc.  


Rikyu 1

  

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

7

  

                   Vln. I                    Vln. II

Vla.

  

 

         

                     

                                 

                                 Vc.     


8

Rikyu 1

  

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

 ni

 ha

 

 ro

                             Vln. I           Vln. II

Vla.

                         

          

                                    

                                     Vc.  


Rikyu 1

  

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

Vln. I

Vln. II

Vla.

9

 

mu

ri

                                           

 

 

 

                              

                                  

   Vc.  

                               


10

Rikyu 1

 

Rikyu 3

Vln. I

Vln. II

Vla.

ka

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 4

  

ke

  ra

yo

gi

ga

gu

                                        

                     

            

                                    

                              Vc.        


Rikyu 1

 

Rikyu 3

Vln. I

Vln. II

Vla.



ya

po

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 4

11

   

(whispered)

 

Hi - de - yo - shi

pi

chi

                                                         

                       

                               

                                        Vc. 


12

Rikyu 1

  

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

Vln. I

 (whispered)   

go

Hi - de - yo - shi

i

e

                                        

Vln. II

 

 

                  

                                       

Vla.

Vc.

 

                                   


Rikyu 1

 

Rikyu 3

Vln. I

nu

 

e

  

te

                                                         

Vla.

   

Vln. II

Vc.

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 4

13

                                  

                                   


14

Rikyu 1

 

no

 pu

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

  

 ma

                         Vln. I  Vln. II

Vla.

                                     

           

                                     Vc.  


15

 Rikyu 1 

Rikyu 3

Vln. I

Vln. II

Vla.



ko

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 4

Rikyus slowly and independantly move to center stage, toward their tea ceremony positions

shi

  

Hi

yo

 de

 

yo

 de

zo

 shi

tu

                       

                                     

 Vc.  

                                   

                               


16

Rikyu 1

 

za

ru

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

 

ho



su

ki



pa

sa

pe

 bu

da

se

                                   Vln. I    Vln. II

Vla.

   

 

                              

                                       

                             Vc.         


Rikyu 1

 

 ge

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

17

  

gu

ga

me

wa

 ho

                          Vln. I             Vln. II

Vla.

 

 

 Vc.  

  

                              

                                   

                               


18

Rikyu 1

 

pa

Hi

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

  

yo



ba

se

de

 ke

 shi

                         Vln. I              Vln. II

Vla.

                                                                               

                                       Vc.  


19

 Rikyu 1 

Rikyu 3

 tsu

yo

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 4

Rikyus , at tea ceremony positions, kneel together

Hi

  

de

he

mo

i

 shi

            Vln. I   Vln. II

Vla.

                                     

                                  

                Vc. 


20

Part II. This act is done silently, without playing or singing. The only sounds are the sounds generated by the action itself. All actions are done in unison. Items are picked up silently but set down aggressively, creating a slight 'thud'. The Rikyus take the chawan, wipe it with the chakin, and set down the bowl. They take the chashaku, wipe it with the chakin, and set it back down. They open the chaki, take the chashaku, take one scoop of tea, drop it in the chawan, knock the chashaku against bowl. They set down the chashaku, close the chakin. They take the hishaku, take one scoop of water and pour it into the bowl then set down the hishaku. They take the chasen and whisk tea briskly. After tea is frothy, set down chasen. Each offers the chawan to the Rikyu to his right, setting it down in from of him. Each Rikyu takes the bowl offered him, picks it up, rotates it in his hands with two quarter turns. He takes three sips from it, the third drinking the remainder of the tea with an audible "slurp". He then places the chawan gently in front of him, and with a bowing motion, inspects the tea bowl. Rikyu arises from the bow (but still kneeling) and takes the tanto.


 Rikyu 1  Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

Vln. I

Part III

21

Rikyus motionless, each holding dagger

h = c. 32

Freely

                     

mf Jin - se - i

Chi - ka - ra

i

ma - re

ha - na - shi

 

 

                     

mf

  

 



mp

mf







 





 



 

 Vc.  

 

mp







 

shi - chi

ju - u

Chi - ka - ra

i

ma - re

ha - na - shi

                     



                   

mf Jin - se - i

mp

Vla.

ju - u

mp

Vln. II

shi - chi


22

 Rikyu 1 

                      

 

                      

in tempo

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

Vln. I

Vln. II

Vla.

Freely

                       Wa - re she ta - ka - ra

Wa - re she ta - ka - ra

 







 Vc.  

 

tsu - ru - gi

So ho - to - ke

So ho - to - ke

to - mo sa - tsu

to - mo sa - tsu

                      

  

tsu - ru - gi



 









 

 

 








23

 Rikyu 1 

                       

 

                  

in tempo

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

Freely

                   Tsu - tsu - mi ru wa - re

Tsu - tsu - mi ru wa - re





 

 







 

 









 















 

Vla.

Vc.

 

e

gu - so - ku no

gu - so - ku no

i - chi ta - chi

i - chi ta - chi

                  

  Vln. I  Vln. II

e


24

 Rikyu 1 

Rikyus open their robes

in tempo

Rikyu 2

Rikyu 3

Rikyu 4

Vln. I

I - ma ko - re to - ki zo ten ni ho - u

 

 

              

               

I - ma ko - re to - ki zo ten ni ho - u

              

 

Vla.

 

  

Vc.

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

     

 

 

  

 

 

   

              

  

Vln. II

Freely

 

  


25

Rikyus make 3 slices into their abdomens...



in tempo, slower

Vln. I

 

  f    

Vln. II

Vla.

Vc.

f

   f

f

    

    

    

    

...and colapse

    

pp



pp

 

pp

pp

fin.

The Last Tea of Rikyu  

an opera in three parts for four voices and string quartet

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