Tokyo – A 100% Italian evening on November 28, 2014 at the Tokyo City Opera, a 1,600-seat theater: the recital by Leo Nucci – accompanied by the musicians of the Italian Opera Chamber – ends with an incredible seventh encore in which the Lodi baritone grants new the Cavatina of the “Barber of Seville”. A doubled personal concert, in short, with which the almost 73-year-old Nucci reciprocates the enthusiasm of the Japanese audience, who has also led them to sing in chorus “Non ti scordar di me”, a song that is less forgotten in these parts than in Italy.
A program of classic operatic repertoire – Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Giordano – plus – in the first part – some Neapolitan songs. The reaction disproves the cliché that the Japanese are cold and staid: it is a real personal triumph. “I have been coming to Japan for 33 years. Each time I never cease to be amazed by the affection that is reserved for me ”, says Nucci, who takes the opportunity to send a message. “It is the demonstration of how much Italian culture is appreciated and loved in the world. This should lead us to believe in our country: let’s not forget that it’s nice to be Italian! ”.
An invitation to optimism, in short, at a time when the country’s “mood” appears disheartened in many respects. To bring Nucci and the six Italian musicians who accompany him to Tokyo was Masaru Arihara, who studied and lived in Italy and then moved on to the business of impresario: in 27 years he organized in Japan with his Tokyo Pro Musica Co. a large number of concerts, 90% by Italian opera singers. “I didn’t manage to break through as a tenor and so I changed my job…”, says Arihara, for whom “Italy is a second homeland” and “opera creates a deep bond between the two countries”.
“I’ve been following Nucci for almost forty years. We grew up together – says the master pianist Paolo Marcarini – There is enthusiasm all over the world, but here in Japan the warmth of the audience is extraordinary ”. Leo Nucci is late in signing autographs. But he waits for the plane in the morning for new and close international engagements: next stop Vienna.