OPERA: Tokaido Road (2014-15)

By January 20, 2021Portfolio, Telling Stories

You can watch the full opera here: Tokaido Road

A short film about the making of Tokaido Road: The Tokaido Road Journey

“Tokaido Road is an existential journey in speech, song, mime and dance…LeFanu’s sensitive use of the combined western and Japanese sound palette of the Okeanos ensemble…is meticulously thought through, with spare instrumental lines exquisitely woven with the voices. Every word is audible, every movement is eloquent, and Kimie Nakano’s design remains long in the mind’s eye.”

Hilary Finch  | ★★★★ The Times

UK Tour

  • Cheltenham Music Festival – 6th July 2014
  • Lake District Summer Festival – 6th August 2014
  • British Museum – 1st October 2014
  • Milton Court Theatre – 25th February 2015
  • Gulbenkian Theatre – 23rd May 2015
  • Alwinton Festival – 27th June 2015
  • Jack Lyons Concert Hall – 28th October 2015
  • EuroClassical Festival (Tokaido Road streamed across Europe) – 1st March 2016

It’s not often one experiences a piece on this scale that’s so emphatically intimate throughout. Everything about the work, from its soundworld to its modus operandi, takes some getting used to, but the combined effect is of a delicate & rather beautiful honesty. One of the closing scenes, where the character of Mariko sang to her baby while the koto made soft sounds akin to a western harp, was just one of many such exquisite moments. It may all be in the mind of an old man from a far-off land, but the stuff of memories at the heart of Tokaido Road is something to which we can all very intimately relate.


There is always a danger of drifting into a mood of nostalgia for the good old days, but Tokaido Road avoids portraying an idealistic version of Old Japan.…Tokaido Road deals with a world very unlike our own, this original and unusual work speaks with an honesty and clarity which I found profoundly moving.

Roger Jones, Seen & Heard

Tokaido Road was a true collaboration of several talents and a particular triumph for Nicola LeFanu, whose wisdom and experience illuminated this, her ninth score for the stage.

Paul Conway, Musical Opinion
  • Music: Nicola LeFanu
  • Libretto: Nancy Gaffield
  • Conductor: Dominic Wheeler
  • Director: Caroline Clegg
  • Designer: Kimie Nakano
  • Creative Producer: Kate Romano
  • Music: performed by Okeanos
  • Cast: Jeremy Huw Williams (Hiroshige), Raphaela Papadakis (Kikuyo), Caryl Hughes (Mariko) Tomoko Komura/Haruka Kuroda (Mime/dancer)

Tokaido Road was generously supported by:

Arts Council England | Britten Pears Foundation | RVW Trust | Radcliffe Trust | Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation | ACE Foundation | The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation | John S Cohen Foundation | The Leche Trust | University of Kent

Inkind support was provided by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama