The exiting opera Anya 17 is about to premier in Liverpool this Wednesday with an encore performance on 9th March in Manchester. Read our interview with Ben Kaye, the creator of the first Opera about human trafficking.
Anya17 is not your average kind of opera. It blends together beautifully the medium of music with the obscure and subsurface issue of sex trafficking. Beautiful might not be a description you may understand just yet – how can opera and human trafficking mix beautifully? This is why STOP THE TRAFFIK decided to contact the poetic and ingenuous librettist Ben Kaye, in order to understand what animated him to write such a striking piece. For those of you who haven’t heard of Anya17 just yet, this unique musical piece will expose the desperate plight of Eastern European sex trafficked girls in the UK.
Ben explained, the reason he chose his main heroines to be from Eastern Europe is largely inspired from award winning composer Adam Gore’s Eastern European’s routes. He admits that despite acknowledging human trafficking to happen in a multitude of countries, there was no way he could reflect every single nation – especially when the opera’s message needs to be straightforward and clear.
‘We don’t want to beat people on the head because they’ll switch off, people can’t relate to all trafficking stories especially with all the confusing numbers – the stories of those individuals are amalgam of real stories. What’s important is trying to get people to engage on a personal level’.
When it came to doing research on people migrating from Eastern Europe to the UK, Ben shares to us his initial shock to see that sex trafficking came up immediately before human trafficking itself: ‘This is unbelievable, why had I never read about this and how can we possibly allow this to happen?’. Organizations like STOP THE TRAFFIK considerably helped him with his understanding of the cause for the libretto to be as down-to-earth as possible:
‘Even though this is not a documentary, I want the right emotions to come out. Hopefully people that deal with human trafficking will relate to the story and although others may be a little shocked by what happens in the opera, I want to give a realistic account’.
Anya17 is also officially backed up by UN Gift, which Ben tells us he feels is very gratifying. He judges that the UN probably liked his project for its innovation: ‘it captured their imagination’. What’s more, he emphasizes on the importance of using different messages, medium and angles to let people know what’s going on and how opera is as good as anything else to raise awareness on human trafficking:
‘to be honest art has a role to play. The news doesn’t reflect enough whats going on in the word about human trafficking and when it was time for me to write it I was completely fired up and exited to use the medium of music!’
And finally, when it came to thanking Ben Kaye for responding most vividly to our questions, we realized in all our excitement we had almost forgotten to ask the crucial question as to why the opera was called Anya17. His answer I’m sure, will leave you with a touch of curiosity and anticipation:
‘If you think 17 is Anya’s age, then you will be greatly surprised…’
To find out more about Anya17 and to purchase tickets, visit their website, http://www.anya17.co.uk/anya17-venues-tickets.htm
Date: Wednesday 7 March 2012
Time: 7.30pm – 9.30pm (approx.)
Venue: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall*
Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP (UK) (Tel: 0151 210 3789)
Concert: Music Theatre Night with Anya17 World Premiere
Date: Friday 9 March 2012
Time: 7.30pm – 9.30pm (approx.)
Venue: Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) Concert Hall
124 Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9RD (UK) (Tel: 0161 907 5200)
Concert: New Music North West: Ensemble 10/10