Saariaho: Only the Sound Remains (DVD)

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Philippe Jaroussky, Dutch National Opera

Philippe Jaroussky counter-tenor
Davóne Tines baritone

Dutch National Opera,
André De Ridder

Peter Sellars stage director

This DVD and Blu-ray derive from the world premiere performances, at the Dutch National Opera in 2016, of Only the Sound Remains, a Japanese-inspired double bill by Kaija Saariaho.

Her first opera, L’Amour de loin, has captivated audiences around the world, and she composed Only the Sound Remains with the ethereal tones of Philippe Jaroussky in mind. Appropriately, the French countertenor plays two supernatural characters, an angel and a ghost. The fisherman and priest who encounter them are both sung by baritone Davone Tines, while the production is the work of the celebrated director Peter Sellars.

Only the Sound Remains combines two short operas inspired by Nôh dramas: Always strong (original title Tsunemasa) and Feather mantle (Hagoromo), based on translations by Ezra Pound and Ernest Fenollosa.

In Always Strong, a young lute player named Tsunemasa returns as a spirit to the court following his death under violent circumstances. When alive, his playing on the Biwa lute was erotic and heavenly but he cannot find happiness again. The monk Gyōkei contacts the spirit and offers the Biwa lute before the altar of the deceased and performs a service with music. Tsunemasa’s spirit touches the lute briefly before disappearing slowly.


In Feather Mantle, a fisherman named Hakuryō goes fishing with his companions and finds a beautiful robe hung on a pine branch. When he attempts to take it home as a family heirloom, a celestial maiden appears and asks him to return the robe to her. At first, Hakuryō refuses to return it. However he is moved by the celestial maiden who laments that she cannot go home to heaven without it. The fisherman argues with her and finally promises to return it if she will show to him her dance or at least part of it. She accepts his offer and eventually disappears in the haze, beyond the peak of Mount Fuji – only the sound remains.


Julie Mehretu Scenography
Robby Duiveman Costumes
James F. Ingalls Lighting
Nora Kimball-Mentzos Choreography
Christophe Lebreton Computer music design
David Poissonnier Sound projection

Running time: 106 min.

Languages: French, English, German, Italian, Dutch - Sung in English

Audio: Stereo LPCM 2.0 / Dolby Digital 5.1, NTSC

Video: All regions – 16:9

Also available on Bluray (Erato 9029575391)

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