Iron Road in Concert

Music by Chan Ka Nin | Libretto by Mark Brownell

The most nominated show in 2001, including review headlines “Iron Road triumphs”, Iron Road became one of a very few Canadian grand operas to deal with Canadian history and the first bilingual Cantonese-English opera. Iron Road begins as a humble, individual quest and expands to consider the Chinese struggle for dignity and identity in Canada. Lai Gwan, a young impoverished woman, leaves China in 1880 in search of her missing father in the new world. Disguised as a boy, Lai Gwan collides with the brutal realities of the land, dangerous work, and unexpected love as part of the historic work of laying the last tracks on the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Iron Road is truly a crossroads – where two vastly different cultures meet and strong characters confront their deepest fears and desires. Be swept away by the musical mastery of Chan Ka Nin as Iron Road In Concert revisits this creative crucible for the melding of history, myth, and cultural styles. 

Iron Road premiered at the Elgin Theatre in April 2001 and was the first Canadian opera to be bilingual in Cantonese and English. It was nominated for 9 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, and was the winner of Outstanding New Musical. Iron Road presented a cast of 40 singers and dancers and an orchestra of 40 players, including traditional Chinese instruments.

19 years later, Tapestry Opera reignites the passion of this epic tale of romance, cultural struggle, and hope though a live concert performance at Koerner Hall.

Koerner Hall

273 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W2



  • Chan Ka Nin: Music
  • Mark Brownell: Libretto