About Mt. Fuji International Opera Competition of Shizuoka
Commencing in 1996, the 50 year after the death of MIURA Tamaki, Shizuoka Prefectural Government has held the Mt. Fuji International Opera Competition of Shizuoka once every three years to commemorate the world-famous prima donna, known for her ties to Shizuoka Prefecture. This Competition aims not only to discover more talented artists in the musical world but also to promote the development of musical culture, strengthen international relations thorough global cultural exchange, and create Shizuoka’s unique culture to show throughout the world.
© SATO Tamaki
Who is MIURA Tamaki?
MIURA Tamaki was born in Kyobashi, Tokyo, in 1884 (17th year of Meiji Era). Her father, Kumataro Shibata was from Shimoasahina-mura,Kito-gun,
Shizuoka prefecture (the current Omaezaki-city) and her mother, Towa, from the Nagata clan in Kozawa-mura,Kito-gun (the current Kikugawa-city). From an early age, she showed an exceptional talent in traditional arts, such as koto (traditional string instrument), nagauta (traditional form of singing accompanied by shamisen), and traditional Japanese dancing. She was also admired for her beautiful singing voice. At the age of 16, she entered Tokyo Music School, the current Tokyo University of the Arts. Selected as heroine of Orfeo ed Euridice, Japan’s first opera performance, she made her opera debut aged 19 years. After that performance she became an active and popular prima donna, exclusively engaged by the Imperial Garden Theater.
In 1913 (2nd year of Taisho Era), Tamaki married Masataro Miura, her distant relative and an assistant (Doctor of Medical Science) at the Tokyo Imperial University School of Medicine. For a while they lived in Kakegawa, Miura’s hometown. In 1914 (3rd year of Taisho Era), she moved to Germany to study with her husband. Due to the outbreak of World War I, however, the couple escaped from Germany to London. In 1915 (4th year of Taisho Era), Tamaki played the leading role in Madama Butterfly at the London Opera House, receiving an outstanding review. She was greatly admired by Puccini, the composer of Madama Butterfly, who said, “It was as if I had composed Madama Butterfly solely for Tamaki Miura.” She successfully went on to perform as prima donna in Madama Butterfly in the United States and Italy.
In 1922 (11th year of Taisho Era), Tamaki first returned to Japan. While staying in Japan, she held 66 Miura Tamaki Solo Recitals in Hamamatsu and other cities. In the Tokyo metropolitan area alone, 80,000 copies of her record were sold, which broke all previous record sales.
Resuming her performance career overseas, in 1928 (3rd year of Showa Era) at the age of 45, she held a Miura Tamaki Solo Recital at Carnegie Hall.After her 2,000th performance of Madama Butterfly in Palermo, Italy, Tamaki returned to Japan, and actively continued her performances in operas and recitals all over the country, including the first staging of Madama Butterfly in Japan, at Kabuki-za theater.However, as social conditions worsened with the onset of war, Tamaki was evacuated to the area of Lake Yamanakako, where her mother, Towa, passed away. After the war was over, she resumed her performances. However, her health deteriorated, and on May 26, 1946 (21st year of Showa Era) she died at the then Tokyo Imperial University Hospital. She was 62 years old.
Reference: MIURA Tamaki - Historical Study by TANABE Hisayuki
Unique Feature of the Competition
Mt. Fuji International Opera Competition of Shizuoka has attracted participants from around the world, including past winners of other leading global competitions. All participants are judged by a committee of leading international experts in our competition. Especially in the 2nd round, each contestant will perform one or more pieces specified by the judges from the opera character chosen at the time of his or her application. Performances will be approximately 20 minutes in durations. This is an unusual approach to judging for an international competition. Pieces will be chosen for degree of difficulty and will enable evaluation not only vocal technique and expressiveness, but also performing experience.
The reason we give our competition the name "Opera Competition" is that we have the challenging assignment at the 2nd round, where contestants cannot go to the finals without the ability to perform a role of operas from the beginning to the end.
History of the Competition
The 1st International Opera Competition in SHIZUOKA was inaugurated in 1996, and the following competitions took place triennially. In 2003,owing to the success of the previous competitions, the competition became the first in Asia to be accepted as a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions（WFIMC）in the category of Opera. In this occasion, the competition was renamed “the Shizuoka International Opera Competition”.
In 2016, the English name of the competition changed to ”the Mt. Fuji International Opera Competition of Shizuoka” to emphasize that the competition takes place near the mountain which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2013.
The latest, 8th competition took place in 2017. Now, prizewinners of the past competitions have gone on to successful careers all around the world.
World Federation of International Music Competitions