Japanese Artforms in “THE鍵KEY”: an Immersive Opera

Key information

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)
Event type
Event highlights

About this event

Speaker: Francesca Le Lohé


Inspired by Junichiro Tanizaki's novella of the same name, "THE鍵KEY" (2018-2019) is a site-specific, immersive opera performed by an ensemble of singers, Japanese and Western instruments, and a dancer. This presentation shall provide insight into why the composer & director Francesca Le Lohé decided to incorporate particular Japanese instruments into the opera, and how working with these instruments and their performers shaped the creative process.

It shall also reflect on the intended and unexpected results produced by the synthesis of Japanese and Western artforms, and consider whether the musical worlds of each instrument co-existed, or co-created a new sonic world. In addition, video footage from both the 2019 Tokyo and London performances shall be shared, leading to further discussion on how the socio-cultural context of each country affected the content and staging of the opera.

More about THE鍵KEY can be found on the The Key Opera's website.

Event recording

Speaker biography

Francesca Le Lohé is a British composer and community musician active in Japan and the UK. Through her practice, Francesca aims to create ambitious music-based projects which provoke awareness and open discussion on social themes, bringing together the experience and skills of multiple people across varied disciplines and cultures. 

Major projects include: “How Was It For You?”, taking Mori Ogai's short novel, "Vita Sexualis"(1909) as a springboard to explore themes of Relationship and Sex Education within Japan and the UK (Tokyo premiere, May 2022) and "THEKEY": an immersive, site-specific opera inspired by Tanizaki's novella, featuring a mixture of Japanese and Western artforms (awarded the 2019 “Keizo Saji Prize”. Japan premiere May 2018, UK premiere, August 2019). 

Francesca was based in Tokyo from 2015-2021, a move initiated by receiving a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship. Alongside her compositional activities, Francesca studied Japanese instruments, including shakuhachi with Rei Jin, biwa with Kumiko Shuto, and sho with The Japan Gagaku Society, with whom she regularly performed.


SOAS Japan Research Centre