It’s not often you can say that your friend has an opera premiere, but tonight in Tokyo is the opening night of Kenichi Nichizawa’s Manji (Quicksand), a work in three acts based on the torrid 1920’s novel by Junichiro Tanizaki. I really wish I could attend ; working in the evening means that I always miss these kinds of events – but I am still excited to be able to go there by proxy (D is attending with his partner in art crime, Yukiro (who is the composer’s other half): as a congratulations/ virtual bouquet for Kenichi and Y, I am also sending along via D a bottle of Heeley’s latest perfume – the aptly named Rose Aria.
It will be d’s first time in the big city for almost two years: such a long time since we have been out properly, but in global terms, despite the continuing rational apprehension that most people have here, the coronavirus situation in Japan is nevertheless almost absurdly, scarily good, and D and Y have now also resumed work on their ridiculous black comedy Spoiled Identity, which I can’t wait to be part of again this Saturday – so weary of being respectable and teacherly now that the term is winding to an end and I have done my work properly : now I just need some hilarity and creative madness to rewire my brain again. Bring on Christmas !
The co-conspirators were here, in fact, finally together again at the house the other day, working on ideas for the upcoming scenes. In the evening, they attended the goodbye party of a friend and part of the film’s cast in Yokohama; dressing up and selecting scent before doing so. D went surprisingly for Melagrana E Uva (pomegranate and grape) by Speziali Fiorentini – a rich, deeply fruited winter warmer that actually suits him really nicely on the rare occasions he suddenly feels like wearing it (and I can imagine that being selected again tonight, actually – perfect for walking into a theatre! ). Y apparently mooched around the collection for a while, eventually settling on Rose Aria – at first, according to D, rather disturbed; (a very fresh, clear, almost green-apple clean garden red rose opening the perfume, rosa centifolia delicately paired with a lightness of galbanum, the rose soon rasped away like the abduction of the seraglio by a paradoxically oudish saffron musk sandalwood amber: a dirty, melancholic clashing that is a peculiar counterpoint to the clarity of the beginning); initially not entirely sure, then later, apparently, gradually completely succumbing to its darker, helicat charms.
We are told this by James Heeley:
“Like music that can be measured by the vibration of audible sound waves, a perfume is often measured by its ‘sillage’, the trail of scent that the wearer leaves behind ‘en passant. The greater the sillage, the more exquisite a perfume must be’.
I agree. And this sillage, on Yukiro, if he sprays some of this luxuriant perfume on tonight, will be quite splendid I am sure as he glides swanlike down the aisles (we once went perfume shopping in Ginza together as a birthday present for Kenichi; after much ado, finally settling on Histoires De Parfums Noir Patchouli – which has now become K’s signature: I can even imagine there will be a vague aura of that aromatic delight about him tonight as he takes his bow, receiving roses at the end of the performance).
Rose doesn’t like me though – I make this smell weird, bloody,, unpretty (which actually seems to suit the subject matter of tonight’s tempestuous opera : a murderous love triangle.). I couldn’t possibly pull Rose Aria off convincingly myself even if I were able to go: in truth I don’t think I have ever really had any rose that actually suited my skin properly, that I have carried off well despite my love of the living flowers themselves. I don’t know: perhaps the original, patchouli heavy Voleur De Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur is the closest that has ever fit the bill ( I wear Hermès Rouge and Guerlain Nahéma vintages at home for my personal pleasure but rarely step out of the house in this flower) – there isn’t really any point. I just make it sour,
It all depends on the wearer – a lighter, drier skin will definitely bring out the magnetic airiness that the fragrance possesses; let it sing; fully bring out the mezzo soprano rose note floating in the top accord of this perfume which, while somewhat foreboding, does have a strange, somewhat beguilingly haunting kind of beauty.