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Christian Eede
30 August 2023, 17:05

Ryuichi Sakamoto's final performances captured in new concert film, Opus

The performances took place in the months before his death earlier this year at studios in Tokyo

Ryuichi Sakamoto's final performances captured in new concert film, Opus

Ryuichi Sakamoto's final live performances are to be the focus of a new concert film, called Opus.

Set to receive its world premiere at Venice Film Festival on 5th September, the film was directed by the late musician's son, Neo Sora, while his wife and manager, Norika Sora, produced it. The performances took place at studios in Tokyo's NHK Broadcast Center in the months before Sakamoto's death earlier this year.

The film include performances of works by Yellow Magic Orchestra, as well as his scores for films such as The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and music from the artist's final album, '12'.

In a statement about the film shared posthumously, Sakamoto said: "The project was conceived as a way to record my performances – while I was still able to perform – in a way that is worth preserving for the future. We borrowed the NHK Broadcast Center's 509 Studio to record in, which is a place that I think offers the finest acoustics in Japan.

"I played every piece at home which we recorded on an iPhone to construct the overall composition of the concert that will express the progression of time from morning into night. Everything was meticulously storyboarded so that the camera positions and the lighting changed significantly with each song. I went into the shoot a little nervous, thinking this might be my last chance to share my performance with everyone in this way. We recorded a few songs a day with a lot of care.

"In some sense, while thinking of this as my last opportunity to perform, I also felt that I was able to break new grounds. Simply playing a few songs a day with a lot of concentration was all I could muster at this point in my life. Perhaps due to the exertion, I felt utterly hollow afterwards, and my condition worsened for about a month. Even so, I feel relieved that I was able to record before my death – a performance that I was satisfied with."

You can preview the film via a clip of Sakamoto performing his music for Bernardo Bertolucci's 1990 film The Sheltering Sky on Deadline.

In May, Sakamoto's management team shared his "last playlist" featuring music that he selected to be played at his funeral.