Rafu Wire and Staff Reports
An opera recording by Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa on Monday won the Best Opera Recording award at the Grammys.
Ozawa’s recording, released last year on the Decca label, is of a performance of Ravel’s “L’Enfant et Les Sortileges” (The Child and the Spells) given in August 2013 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture by the Saito Kinen Orchestra as part of the orchestra’s festival.
Ozawa, 80, the artistic director of Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, had been nominated for a Grammy seven times previously, but this was his first win. This was also the first time for the Saito Kinen Orchestra to be nominated for a Grammy.
Ozawa made his debut at the Paris Opera with Ravel’s “L’enfant et les sortileges.” This summer at the 2016 season of OMF, he will be conducting the same opera piece together with the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy Orchestra.
“The ‘L’enfant et les sortileges’ is an opera production I made with my close Saito Kinen Orchestra friends and great opera singers,” Ozawa said. “It is thanks to them that the rehearsals and performances of this production were fruitful and truly enjoyable. I think that this is a driving force of Matsumoto Festival. I am very happy and honored that we produced this piece. I would like to share this joy with all of them!”
Mutsuo Kanzawa, chairman of OMF, expressed “deepest thanks” to Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto City, sponsors and “all the volunteers without whose support the festival could not be realized.”
Matsumoto Mayor Akira Sugenoya commented, “I feel this award just confirms the high artistic quality of classical music produced by Artistic Director Seiji Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra and the continuous support of the citizens of Matsumoto City. Matsumoto City will continue to support Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival and as its host work to enhance its outreach projects.”
In 1992, Ozawa co-founded the renowned Saito Kinen Festival in memory of his teacher at Tokyo’s Toho School of Music, Hideo Saito, a central figure in the cultivation of Western music and musical technique in Japan.
Ozawa is known for his activities in and out of Japan, which include conducting top orchestras of the world. He was a music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 29 years and was also music director of the Vienna State Opera. Four of his Grammy nominations were for recordings with the BSO.
Accepting the Grammy on Ozawa’s behalf at the Staples Center ceremony was Mark Volpe, managing director of BSO.
The other Best Opera Recording nominees were “Janacek: Jenufa” (Donald Runnicles, conductor), Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin; “Monteverdi: Il Ritorno D’Ulisse In Patria” (Martin Pearlman, conductor), Boston Baroque; “Mozart: Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail” (Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor), Chamber Orchestra of Europe; and “Steffani: Niobe, Regina Di Tebe” (Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, conductors), Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra.
The cast album for “The King and I,” featuring Ken Watanabe, was among the works nominated for Best Musical Theater Album, but the award went to “Hamilton.” Also nominated were “An American in Paris,” “Fun Home” and “Something Rotten!”
Watanabe, 56, appeared in “The King and I” in New York last year and the album includes “Shall We Dance?” sung by Watanabe and actress Kelli O’Hara. Watanabe also received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of the king of Siam.
Past Japanese recipients of Grammys included composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who received the award in 1989 for scoring the movie “The Last Emperor.”
For a complete list of winners, visit www.grammy.com.