Kiyoshi Igarashi

8 September 1928 Kobe – 23 September 2011 Tokyo

Kiyoshi Igarashi sings 'O sole mio, partly in Japanese

Kiyoshi (nickname: Yoshiyoshi) Igarashi studied voice in Osaka and Tokyo, then in Italy (among others with Tito Schipa). He returned to Japan in 1963, but gave his debut only in 1966 as Don José with the Fujiwara Opera Company.

He further sang Duca, Alfredo, Riccardo, Almaviva, Nemorino, Edgardo and Pinkerton; but more than an opera singer, it would seem, he was an interpreter of Neapolitan and Japanese songs. He was the foremost Japanese tenor of the 1960s and 1970s, and very popular – which proves, if anything, what an operatic backwater Japan still was at the time.

Interestingly, it was Igarashi himself who did a lot to remedy it, in his second career as an opera director: first of the Fujiwara Opera Company from 1985 to 1999, then at the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) from 1999 to 2003. He mounted a lot of important productions: Otello at both companies, the first Japanese Puritani, Norma, Manon Lescaut or Bohème at Fujiwara, Rheingold, Walküre, Siegfried, Trovatore or Tosca at the NNTT; he hired international singers, conductors and stage directors, he gave pre-show lectures for introducing the audience to the respective work, he presented music programs on TV. And he introduced, as early as 1986 (!), Japanese subtitles in opera performances.

Reference 1; reference 2
Picture source

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