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Opera Parallèle to explore the possibility of opera-as-documentary

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Next moth Opera Parallèle will conclude its 2013–2014 season with a North American premiere. Written by British composer Adam Gorb with a libretto by Ben Kaye, Anya17 presents a gut-wrenching, real-life story of women caught and destroyed in the sex trade. The text of the libretto is based on extensive research by both experts and caseworkers affiliated with ten supporting charities. Thus, while the opera is structured around a clear narrative, it also assumes a documentary account of its source material.

Resident Concept Designer Brian Staufenbiel has conceived a staging in which the orchestra will be on stage, allowing specific instruments to advance the narrative along with the vocalists in their respective roles. Those roles will provide the perspectives of both trafficked sex workers (soprano Anna Noggle and coloratura Shawnette Sulker), traffickers (Victor Benedetti), and, in one case (Catherine Cook), a woman who makes the transition from trafficked to trafficker. Artistic Director Nicole Paiement will conduct the orchestra.

This production will be given three performances at the Marines’ Memorial Theater (609 Sutter Street, just off Union Square) at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 20, and Saturday, June 21, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 22. Tickets will be priced from $35 to $80 with a 10% discount for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page.

In addition, the performance will be preceded by four preview events, all of which will be open to the public at no charge:

  1. June 3, 6.p.m., Grace Cathedral (100 California Street): Opera Parallèle will host a Community Forum Presentation, which will include musical excerpts from the opera and a panel discussion on how the performing arts can address the issues raised by Kaye’s libretto.
  2. June 9, 6 p.m., Kanbar Center for the Arts (44 Page Street): Paiement and Staufenbiel will host a sneak preview with musical excerpts performed by the cast members.
  3. June 13, 4:30 p.m., Marines’ Memorial Theater: This will be an open rehearsal, which will be followed by a Q&A with the audience, in which Paiement, Staufenbiel, and members of the cast will participate. Pre-reserved seating will be arranged for donors. The general public will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  4. June 18, 6 p.m., Marines’ Memorial Theater: Paiement, Staufenbiel, and Gorb will participate in a panel discussion.
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