House of the sleeping beauties

After the success of their first opera The Women Who Walked Into Doors (2001), the composer Kris Defoort and the producer Guy Cassiers are now working on their next project. Its starting point is the novel by the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata House Of The Sleeping Beauties (1961) for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.

The novel tells the story of old Eguchi in a strange and tender brothel, where elderly men can spend the night and snuggle up against the warm bodies of very young girls drugged by sleeping pills. It is the story of farewell, old age and death.

While reading this pacified elegy, Kris Defoort immediately heard music notes. The voice as an instrument, will be essential in this opera. A choir of four female voices will describe the bodies of the young sleeping girls, a soprano will sing what Eguchi does and thinks, as well as descriptions of nature, which have an important place in this story. The role of the old man will be sung by a baritone: he will express Eguchi’s first impressions of the young girls and how they evoke memories of women from his past. The room will thus become a space for the voice and a space for lyricism.

Every time Eguchi visits the brothel, before entering the room, he starts a conversation with the madam. An actor and actress will perform these down-to-earth dialogues on everyday events. Inside and outside, sung and spoken: two melancholic worlds, quite different in colour, intensity and emotions.


Premiere 8 May 2009 De Munt/La Monnaie Brussels

It was so touching and amazing! I haven't read the original story yet, however, it was very unique,philosophical and human-like piece, giving me many thoughts and feelings. I also felt that it was the great comprehensive art, including opera, modern dance and acting based on the Japanese classical literature. I could just say BRAVO! Thank you very much for this precious opportunity.
Lie Tamura over 'House of the Sleeping Beauties' in Tokio
House of the sleeping beauties
House of the sleeping beauties
House of the sleeping beauties


  • MUSIC Kris Defoort
  • LIBRETTO Guy Cassiers, Kris Defoort, Marianne Van Kerkhoven
  • DIRECTOR Guy Cassiers
  • CONDUCTOR Patrick Davin
  • DRAMATURGY Marianne Van Kerkhoven
  • CHOREOGRAPHY Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
  • SET DESIGN Enrico Bagnoli & Arjen Klerkx
  • LIGHTNING DESIGN Enrico Bagnoli
  • VIDEO Arjen Klerkx
  • COSTUMES Tim Van Steenbergen
  • ACTORS Dirk Roofthooft & Katelijne Verbeke
  • SINGERS Barbara Hannigan (soprano) & Omar Ebrahim (baritone)
  • CHOIR Susanne Duwe, Alice Foccroulle, Susanne Hawkins, Els Mondelaers
  • DANCE Kaori Ito
  • ORCHESTRA Asko|Schönberg
  • PRODUCTION LOD muziektheater, Toneelhuis, La Monnaie/De Munt
  • COPRODUCTION Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Asko|Schönberg, Musica - festival international des musiques d'aujourd'hui de Strasbourg, La Filature Mulhouse, Operadagen Rotterdam
  • SUPPORT Orchestre National de Belgique, BOZAR Music, Ars Musica, Concertgebouw Brugge, Kunstenfestivaldesarts

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