'Tokaido Road - a Journey after Hiroshige' is a 60 minute chamber opera. Okeanos have commissioned Nicola LeFanu to compose a work whose libretto grew from an award–winning book of poems: Tokaido Road by Nancy Gaffield. The poems celebrate the journey made famous by Hiroshige’s woodblock prints, 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road, depicting the road from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto. As the characters in the prints come to life, Hiro, the artist, becomes enmeshed in an unfolding drama. The opera is scored for three singers, a mime and an ensemble (6 players) of Western and Japanese instruments. Created and delivered by an outstanding team of practitioners, the opera combines an ambitious composite of art forms, including visual art and contemporary photography, poetry/libretto, music, mime and design and juxtaposes Eastern and Western cultures. The project is financially supported by an Arts Council Award, grants from eight further Trusts and Foundations and in-kind support from two academic Institutions.
Planned as a touring work, Tokaido Road was premiered at Cheltenham Festival (July 2014) and tours to 6 further high profile UK Festivals / venues. The creation of the chamber opera is embedded in a parallel post-doctoral research project that analyses and informs the creative process and development period. Audience development for Tokaido Road is addressed via a varied, unique and creative programme of education and outreach events for schools, higher education and communities, utilizing existing Outreach frameworks.
Through Tokaido Road, Okeanos seek to achieve the following outcomes:
1. We wish to better understand the ‘complex and murky relationship’ that exists between the arts and demonstrate this in the creation and delivery of an integrated cross-arts work which is an exemplary model of its kind. To this end, Tokaido Road is conceived as a study in extended ekphrasis, a term that describes the use of one art form to 'comment on' or 'illustrate' another.
2. We seek to understand how these artistic relationships change when translated through a second culture. To what extent are relationships between art forms universal or culturally driven? Does cross-cultural translation have an important aesthetic impact?
3. We want to present this powerful cross-cultural, cross-arts synergy as a rich and highly accessible source of pleasure, entertainment and education rather than a misunderstood and sometimes marginalized form of art.