By Yusuke Tsuruta / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterAfter starting her theatrical career with the all-female Takarazuka Revue, singer Fubuki Koshiji (1924-80) eventually left the company to become the “queen of chanson.” Now history has repeated itself somewhat, as actress Mao Daichi, who also rose to stardom at Takarazuka, played Koshiji in a recent TV biography about the great singer.
Daichi played the singer during her heyday in “Koshiji Fubuki Monogatari” (A tale of Fubuki Koshiji), which ended its run on the TV Asahi network late last month. Miori Takimoto portrayed her when she was younger.
They both sang Koshiji’s signature songs, such as “Hymne a L’Amour,” known as “Ai no Sanka” in Japanese. Their songs are featured on an album with the same title as the drama and put out by the Universal label.
Koshiji seems to have had many personality shifts: masculine to feminine, mature to childish, and then back again. She also became extremely nervous before going onstage. In one scene in the drama, Koshiji asks her manager, lyricist Tokiko Iwatani (played by Yoshie Ichige in the drama): “Is there anyone in the audience? Are they really here to listen to me sing?”
Daichi said she believes Koshiji was “feeling lonely” at that moment. “Strangely enough, however, when she went on stage, things opened up. I think she struggled a lot until she crossed the boundary.”
On the album, Daichi sang six songs that Koshiji was acclaimed for. Four of the songs, including “Sans toi ma mie,” were sung by both Daichi and Takimoto.
“I hope the listeners will appreciate the different arrangements [of the songs],” Daichi said.
Taking into consideration how Koshiji would sing them, Daichi performed in her bright, resonant voice, presenting different emotions from song to song.
“I sang them thinking I was playing six different women,” she said. “The songs Koshiji-san used to sing sounded different each time she performed them. There’s no way I can reach where she was, so I created the six women in my own way.”
In “Sans toi ma mie,” Daichi expressed “a little bit of a sad woman — a woman who waits, a woman who sings trying not to cry.”
The actress chose “Ai no Makugire,” or “La Rupture,” by herself. “It’s like cutting ties cleanly [with a man], saying, ‘It’s all over with you,’” she said. “Actually, I was assuming French women would probably be strong like that.”
When recording for the album, Daichi sang “Hymne a L’Amour” in a key lower by a half tone than when she sang it early in the drama — a decision she made with an aged Koshiji in mind.
“I pictured her in my mind as a mature, seasoned person before her death,” Daichi said. “The music is very big at the end, where I finish singing emphatically. I hope listeners will turn up the volume and listen to my breaths, too.”
Daichi said she actually “did not like chanson very much” during her days at the Takarazuka Revue.
“I was determined I wouldn’t wear Chanel back then but wait until I turned 40, and that I wouldn’t sing chanson until I became mature enough,” she recalled. “Now I’m fully matured, and here comes the opportunity to sing chanson, although I used to say I hated them. I found them profound.”
What would Koshiji have thought if she heard Daichi sing?