The ancient Japanese art form of Kabuki made its debut on the Las Vegas Strip in a never-before-seen spectacle on Lake Bellagio, in front of the Bellagio Hotel & Casino. Larger-than-life animations and dazzling water choreography delivered an extraordinary rendition of Kabuki masterpiece Koi Tsukami or “Fight with a Carp” as an enormous fish and turbulent sea were projected onto the Fountains of Bellagio in an epic battle scene. The 30-minute production was performed 9:15 on August 14 and 9:15 pm and 11:30 pm on August 15 and 16.
In a classic tale of good versus evil, renowned Japanese actor Ichikawa Somegoro portrayed a handsome samurai who falls in love with a beautiful maiden – depicted by fellow Kabuki actor Nakamura Yonekichi – only to discover she is actually a giant carp’s spirit taking the form of a woman seeking revenge against humans for killing her carp lover. The 30-minute production ended with a dramatic clash between Somegoro and the carp from an impressive 165-foot stage constructed on Lake Bellagio.
With the support of MGM Resorts International, Shochiku, the world’s renowned Kabuki producer and global ambassador aimed to raise worldwide awareness for the Japanese art form by creating an elaborate, high-tech performance unlike anything Las Vegas and traditional Kabuki have ever seen before. The fountains became a huge water screen with animations by Japanese artists and masterminds at teamLab, Panasonic’s state-of-the-art digital technology and spectacular water effects by WET bringing the historic Japanese narrative to life.
“We are honored to collaborate with Shochiku to present Kabuki in Las Vegas,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “The Kabuki Spectacle is the largest-scale production ever seen on the Fountains of Bellagio, and we are thrilled about the opportunity to participate in the celebration of this Japanese cultural tradition on the Las Vegas Strip.”
Jay Sakomoto, President and CEO of Shochiku Co., Ltd., stated, “To be able to realize this new effort as Shochiku welcomes its 120th anniversary is extremely meaningful for us. As the one and only producer and exhibitor of Kabuki, we are dedicated to communicating Kabuki and other aspects of Japanese culture to the world, as well as preserving the traditions of Kabuki. We are excited to present this vast and new Kabuki performance with collaborations of Japanese music and cutting-edge video projections on water fountains in a never-before-seen scale, with Kabuki stars Ichikawa Somegoro and Nakamura Yonekichi.”
The Kabuki Spectacle was part of MGM Resorts’ larger commitment to celebrate Japanese culture and the arts, which also includes a recently debuted art installation at Bellagio by renowned sculptor Masatoshi Izumi and the first-ever Japanese-inspired display at Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.