Sumidagawa, one of the most renowned Noh plays, performed in the Concert Hall by acclaimed Japanese artists – truly an exciting prospect.

It will be preceded by a newly written English re-telling of the story written by Xanthe Gresham Knight and the writer and dramaturg Gareth Mattey.

Motomasa Kanze:
Sumidagawa (90’)

Shizuka Mikata shite, mother
Seigo Mikuriya waki, ferryman

Gasho Yamanaka jiutai chorus
Kohei Kawaguchi jiutai chorus
Yasuki Kobayakawa jiutai chorus
Yasumitsu Kobayakawa jiutai chorus
Yasuhiro Sakoh nohkan flute
Tatsushi Narita kotsuzumi shoulder drum
Tetsuya Yamamoto otsuzumi hip drum

Xanthe Gresham Knight storyteller
Gareth Mattey
writer and dramaturgist


Sumidagawa (“Sumida River”), a masterpiece of Japanese Noh (traditional masked dance-drama), returns to the Aldeburgh Festival for the first time in 33 years. It is presented by exceptional Noh performers from Japan including Shizuka Mikata in the role of the mother and the kotsuzumi player Tatsushi Narita. It will be preceded by a newly written English re-telling of the story by Xanthe Gresham Knight.

Sumidagawa made a great impression on Britten and Pears after their witnessing a performance of the work in 1956, being the inspiration for Britten’s Curlew River (1964). In 1973, the classical theatre of Japan – Noh, Bunraku, Buyo and Kabuki – was celebrated in an illustrated lecture by Colin Graham, who produced and designed the setting for the first production of Curlew River. This was followed later by performances of drama, including Sumidagawa itself, at Snape Maltings. In 1991, Festival audiences took in both Sumidagawa and Curlew River in one night, performed by the Tatsuji Hayashi Company.

Noh Sumidagawa is presented in partnership with Noh Reimagined, produced by Akiko Yanagisawa (Mu Arts). Noh Reimagined is a series of festivals and projects aiming to present classical Noh masterpieces by leading Noh artists along with commissioned new works by innovative contemporary British artists.

Noh Reimagined aims to foster a dynamic dialogue between classical and contemporary arts to explore new meanings and interpretations which transcend time and cultural boundaries.

Come to a pre-performance talk before the performance to learn more about the creative process.

Image: Kano Shun'oku (early 18th century, Edo period): Folding Albums of Noh / Nō on-ekagami

Image courtesy of Hosei University Noh Theatre Research Institute



General booking opens Saturday 27 January at 10am.

Advance booking for members begins on Tuesday 9 January. Find out how becoming a member both supports our work and enables you to enjoy priority booking.

Dates & times

  • Book Now