• direction, choreography, music and virginal: Alessio Silvestrin
  • performance: Reijiro Tsumura, Yuichiro Yokozeki, Koichi Omae and Alessio Silvestrin 

  • text: Phaedo by Plato 

  • light design: Alessio Silvestrin, Azusa Seto
  • mask: Omen Shiwa jo made by Haruko Sugisawa
  • costumes: special thanks to Reijiro Tsumura and
  • length: 43 min. 

  • premiere: Cerulean Tower Noh Theater, Tokyo 01.03.2009 

  • production: Cerulean Tower Noh Theater
  • coproduction: Studio Architanz

You know of course that those things in which the number three is an essential element must be not only three but also odd.

Plato – Phaedo

Suppose a person to use the same argument about harmony and the lyre might he not say that harmony is a thing invisible, incorporeal, perfect, divine, existing in the lyre which is harmonized, but that the lyre and the strings are matter and material, composite, earthy, and akin to mortality. And when someone breaks the lyre, or cuts and rends the strings, then he who takes this view would argue as you do, and on the same analogy, that the harmony survives and has not perished you cannot imagine, he would say, that the lyre without the strings, and the broken strings themselves which are mortal remain, and yet that the harmony, which is of heavenly and immortal nature and kindred, has perished before the mortal. The harmony must still be somewhere, and the wood and strings will decay before anything can happen to that.

Plato – Phaedo

The dramaturgical situation on stage finds inspiration from some excerpts chosen from Plato’s dialogue Phaedo, which are chanted by using the Noh vocal technique and superposed to the score without metronomic synchronization. The choreographed movements which developed than in more abstract direction are taking into consideration the context of traditional Japanese space and intend searching qualities of tensions in a temporal duration. The spiritual arguments of the vast dialogue, about the mater, the soul, and the personal immortality, create a specific ambiance between each element of the work and inspires some creative metaphors which gave trust to a possible combination of ideas apparently far to each other.

One of the rhetorical techniques characteristic of Japanese poetical writing is Kakekotoba. Literally meaning “ Hanging word,” Kakekotoba is related to the word before and after it. It may be a verb taking for a subject or object the nouns coming before and after it. It may be an adjective modifying the words between which it stands.

The music score of Kakekotoba has been composed of several melodies cells from the Noh theater music and divided into sections each in one page. The pauses between each of the 54 pages can be long, with a ritual character inspired from the Japanese Noh. By taking into consideration the fluctuating peaches used in the music of Noh, the attempt of making keyboard transcription of the selected original melodies cells became quite approximate and relatively recognizable in the final result. Therefore the original melodies cells were needed only to initiate the compositive process which then extended the original rhythms and peaches highs by the application of the Fibonacci Numbers and by creating different kinds of counterpoints which are shifting from the traditional Japanese music into the possibilities of the 12 tones scale.
The instrument played in the performance is a 4-foot virginal inspired from the XVII century Flemish School (1/4 meantone temperament) made by Bruno Zardini,
Volargne – Verona 1991.

Alessio Silvestrin


Kakekotoba, of the duration of about fifty minutes, has been created by the Italian choreographer and composer Alessio Silvestrin. The music of Silvestrin was played by himself on the virginal (a small type of harpsichord), and in his work, the heterogeneous physicality interacted on stage at the same time as an excellent combination of theater, dance, and music. Noh Kanze-manner performer, Reijiro Tsumura is a living national treasure. In Kakekotoba he has been wearing the mask of an old man, giving an overwhelming strong impression on the audience. Yuichiro Yokozeki has been a soloist dancer of the Leipzig Ballet, performing a significant repertoire from classical ballet to modern choreography. Koichi Omae has acquired the skills of different genres of dance from ballet to street and had lost his left leg six years ago. The bodies were emitting each personality on the six-meter square of the traditional stage of Noh. TTsumura was chanting Plato’s passages with the tone of Noh singing, Omae dancing unexpectedly active with a long bamboo stick and Yokozeki spontaneously moving as if he was ruling the stage, gradually gave a great sensation by the mixture of the different qualities of physicality at a just few meters of distance from the audience. Silvestrin mentioned that he considered the Japanese “Ma,” which meaning is related to an interval of time, or a space distance as well. The audience could share very well this same sensation, feeling part of a, particularly unique moment. His direction, taking advantage of the structure of the Noh Theater, such as introducing Yokozeki from the small door, Tsumura and Omae from the bridge, and hanging a crotale (a small metal percussion that sounds rather like a little tune bell) hanging from the reel on the sealing was also very fascinating.

Bin Umino

Into The Depth of Bodily Expression

What I found impressive among the pieces I watched are Alessio Silvestrin’s choreographic pieces in Vol. 2 “Triple Bill” in 2009, and Vol. 3 “Te no Uta” in 2010.
In “Kakekotoba” performed in the “Triple Bill,” the sound of the virginal played by Silvestrin himself, and Plato’s text recited by Reijiro Tsumura, together with the physical dialog developed by Yuichiro Yozeki and Koichi Oomae, invite the audience to a mysterious and profound narrative world.

Yoshiko Urano
Madame Figaro Japon 02.05.2014