Yūzuru (‘The Twilight Heron’)
- Masakata Kanazawa
Opera in one act by Ikuma Dan , to a libretto which is the unchanged text of Junji Kinoshita’s play based on a Japanese folktale; Osaka, Asahi Hall, 30 January 1952 (revised version Zürich, 27 June 1957).
In a snowy village lives Yohyō (tenor), a farmer, with his new wife Tsū (soprano), who is popular among the village children. Yohyō is an honest and simple young man, but recently he has become lazy, while Tsū supports him by weaving a luxurious fabric made of heron feathers. Two sly villagers, Unzu (baritone) and Sōdo (bass), suspect that Tsū may be a heron which has taken human form, and find out that Yohyō did once help a heron hurt by an arrow; they persuade him to go to the capital to sell the fabric for a very high price. Meanwhile Tsū appears with the village children and laments the change in Yohyō’s character. Yohyō asks Tsū to weave the fabric once more, and she finally agrees on condition that he will not look into her room while she is weaving. The temptation, however, is too strong and he peeps in only to find a heron working on the loom. Tsū appears with the newly woven fabric, confesses that she is the bird Yohyō once helped, and disappears. As Yohyō desperately holds the fabric in his arms, the village children notice a heron disappearing in the evening sky....