Serendipitous Encounters in Japan

by James Kreger, cellist

This photo originates from the Met Opera Japan tour of May - June 1988. The entire company had arrived in Tokyo the day before and was invited by our sponsor Japan Arts to a festive welcome reception. Howard Howard, our principal horn, was just getting ready to snap this photo of Plácido Domingo and myself when suddenly a gorgeous redhead woman was heard to say, “I want to get in this picture!” It was none other than Mrs. Morley Meredith, whose husband Morley, the great Canadian baritone (February 8, 1922 – February 3, 2000), sang the role of Schlemil in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, one of three operas including Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Verdi’s Trovatore being performed on that tour. There were nine performances in Tokyo and four in Nagoya and Osaka in addition to a Tokyo concert by Kathleen Battle, Plácido Domingo, and the MET Orchestra, James Levine, conductor (recorded and released by Deutsche Grammophon). Along with the company’s previous tour to Japan in 1975, the 1988 tour marked only the fourth time since the opening of the Met in 1883 that the company had performed outside the United States and Canada. More than 350 people travelled from New York, including stage hands, technical personnel, and the full MET Chorus and Orchestra. Tours to Japan, where the Met has developed a huge fan base, have now become regular, greatly anticipated events in that country.

A live 1972 performance, featuring Plácido Domingo as Hoffmann, Joan Sutherland as Giulietta, and Gabriel Bacquier as Dapertutto