Like the spring flowers now painting the city in fantastic color, Natsumi Matsuzaki had a similar awakening the first time she heard “Song to the Moon” from Dvořák ’s Rusalka. She did not know at the time, but this one discovery would eventually lead her halfway around the world to the home of Smetana, Janáček, Dušek, and of course Dvořák.
As a child in Miyazaki, Japan, Matsuzaki had an innate love of acting and singing, though her only musical legacy was an aunt who taught piano and stories of her grandmother being a wonderful singer. At the age of 14, and under the tutelage of Yoshiko Higashi, Matsuzaki began her formal training as an opera singer. She spent many years studying and rehearsing, but what set her apart from her fellow students was a deep love of Czech classical music. “Czech music isn’t well known to the Japanese,” she says. “Once I heard it, I wanted to share the music with them. I knew if they could only hear it, they would love it as much as I do.”
Matsuzaki first came to the Czech Republic during her master’s studies at Ferris University (near Tokyo.) “My first visit to the Czech Republic was not very good,” she admits. “I went to Brno and the weather was so cold and gloomy! I was used to something much warmer. I didn’t know anyone and my accommodations were like a prison. It was a sad visit.” She shakes off the memory with a shiver. This did not stop Matsuzai from continuing her studies of Czech classical music and training for a career in opera. The following year, Matsuzaki returned to Prague in springtime and saw the beauty she had heard so much about. “I still consider Brno my second home,” she tells me. “I studied at JAMU for two years and it was a wonderful experience.”
Now full-time in Prague, Matsuzaki’s beautiful voice delights audiences at the Estates Theater’s monthly family performances. The concerts highlight various pieces from French, German, and Czech operas, with children and parents discovering the beauty of many operatic classics. Matsuzaki also lends her vocal talents to numerous diplomatic receptions, as well as Christmas and liturgical concerts throughout the city.
Each spring, Prague’s Japanese Association holds a spring concert at HAMU in Malé Straně. This concert features some of the most talented Japanese musicians studying in Prague. The event promises to have a colorful program. Highlights will include the rare Septet by Saint-Saëns, and three vocal pieces performed by Matsuzaki herself: Nuit d’etoiles (Starry night) by C.Debussy, La mort d’Ophelie (The death of Ophelia) by C.Saint-Saëns, and Air des bijoux (The Jewel Song) from the opera “Faust” by C.Gounod.
This event is free and very popular, but well worth your attendance. The magic of these classical pieces will overwhelm you with their beauty, a lot like visiting Prague in springtime.
Koncert japonských studentů
HAMU // Hudební a taneční fakulta AMU
Malostranské náměstí 13