Japanese conductor to lead Puccini opera in Ukraine

An internationally-acclaimed Japanese conductor will lead an opera performance in Odesa, southern Ukraine, in an effort to encourage people in the war-torn country.

Yoshida Hirofumi will lead the production of Puccini's "La Boheme" at the Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. A rehearsal was held on Wednesday ahead of the performance on Sunday. It will be the troupe's first opera of the season.

Yoshida, who is based in Italy, became the theater's principal guest conductor in 2021.

The theater was temporarily closed following Russia's invasion of the country. But it was reopened in June last year, presenting opera and ballet performances.

Yoshida said he decided to conduct the opera as he wanted to encourage Ukrainian people with music. "La Boheme" is about young artists in Paris in the early 19th century who are full of hopes and dreams.

The Japanese conductor said, "I would like to deliver courage, hope and friendship through this opera. Music is needed in tough situations such as war."