Metro Opera Going Ahead

Ever since the earthquake of March 11 and the resulting crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Metropolitan Opera’s planned tour of Japan in June had been up in the air.

However, the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, sent a memorandum to the company April 19 saying it had been decided that the New York-based opera company would go ahead with the tour.

The decision was based on the U.S. State Department’s lifting of a travel advisory to Tokyo, as well as on “official and scientific reports that the areas around Tokyo and Nagoya are safe.”

Tokyo and Nagoya are the only two cities the 350-member tour will visit. In a March 30 New York Times article, several members of the company expressed reservations about traveling to Japan. The advance team for the tour will leave for Japan in mid-May.

The tour will mean a lot, and not just to those who have already shelled out a great deal of money for tickets. Foreign musicians in both the popular and classical fields have been canceling their planned tours of Japan for the past month, and every week brings more.

Japan Arts, one of the country’s oldest promoters of classical music, has much at stake in the Met tour, which is the organization’s seventh in Japan and their first in five years. The tour also happens to coincide with the 40th anniversary of music director James Levine’s debut with the Met.

Japan Arts is not entirely out of the water yet. The company is scheduled to present another New York-based performing arts organization in July: American Ballet Theater.