New chamber opera Tokaido Road London Premiere

Photo: greg Trezise

Photo: Greg Trezise

Last night I went to the London premiere of chamber opera Tokaido Road at the new Milton Court Theatre on Silk Street. I say chamber opera but it might more accurately be described as music theatre as it tells its tale through a fascinating mixture of music, poetry, mime, dance and visual imagery.  It’s based on Hiroshige’s series of woodblock prints depicting the fifty-three stopping points of the Tokaido, the ancient Eastern Sea Road that ran from Tokyo to Kyoto. Travelling the Tokaido Road was harsh and dangerous and the opera depicts its perils as well as its pleasures. Continue reading

A trip to Cambridge with the Japan Society

17th c illustrated scroll, Cambridge University Library Summer’s here, the sun’s shining and what better way to enjoy it than with a nice day out with the Japan Society? Yesterday I joined a small group of members on a trip to Cambridge for a look behind the scenes at the Japanese print collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Japanese Department at Cambridge University Library, plus a stroll around the historic streets, and a delicious lunch at Fitzbillies. Continue reading

New opera Tokaido Road premieres in July

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Setting out on the Tokaido Road – Nihonbashi

It’s a day (or maybe an overnight) trip from London, but I couldn’t resist telling you about a new multi-media chamber music opera, Tokaido Road, which is premiering at the Cheltenham Music Festival in July. It’s based on Hiroshige’s series of woodblock prints depicting the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido, the old road that ran from Tokyo to Kyoto. And, as a special treat, I have an exclusive interview with the librettist, Nancy Gaffield. Continue reading

Anjin 1600: Edo Wonderpark

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One of the fun things about writing a blog is that the search for material takes me to parts of London I’ve never been before and may very well never go again. Take yesterday’s expedition to De Beauvoir Town, situated roughly where Islington shades into Hoxton, which I reached by number 38 bus and a convoluted walk through quiet streets lined with Victorian terraces. Appropriately enough, my object was to see an installation about journeys to distant lands and what they tell us about colonialism, cultural tourism and identity. Continue reading

Let it snow, let it snow…but only in Cambridge

Ogata Gekko © The Fitzwilliam Museum, CambridgeI put off going to the Snow Country exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until now (and you thought I was just slow off the mark! Shame on you) so as to get the full shivery effect of looking at snow in the depths of winter. And it worked. What with the amount of snow in the pictures and the chilly temperature of the room they’re displayed in you could practically see our breath forming ice crystals in the air by the time we left. But in a good way. Continue reading

One day when I’m rich….Japanese Aesthetic auction at Christie’s South Ken

Christie's South KenMany years ago I used to go to Christie’s South Ken to buy ukiyo-e prints. In those days it was in a rabbit-warren of a building somewhere near the Gloucester Road with room after room piled high with dusty furniture and china. Down in the basement you could ferret about among the prints to find that special treasure going cheap, while the dealers eyed you suspiciously. It’s not like that now. Continue reading