The aesthetics applicable to a legendary Japan contrasts with the rawness of a hopeless story.
The red-lights district of Tokyo will be a silent witness of the fall to disgrace of a young girl who has been kidnapped and held in a brothel by an admirer. Having been frustrated by her innocence, he will finally disown her without having been able to possess her. If that weren’t enough, the young girl will have to deal with the scorn of a father convinced that she has freely chosen prostitution. As the possibility of returning home dissipates and so does her will to live.
The oriental harmonic fantasies proposed by the score of Pietro Mascagni, at no point sweeten the fact that we are observing a narrative based on the accepted (and even applauded) performance of what is basically the intent of rape of a young girl. It is also disturbingly familiar that it is the young girl that has to bear the burden of guilt for a crime that was not committed.
Iris is an opera as uncomfortable for the audience of its premiere as it is for today’s audience.