Last night saw the first of two workshop performances of Act 2 of The Enslavement and Liberation of Oksana G., a new full scale opera with music by Aaron Gervais and libretto by Colleen Murphy. Act 1 was similarly workshopped last year. It’s being produced by Tapestry New Opera in the Ernest Balmer Studio at The Distillery. The second performance is tonight.
The piece is about sex trafficking. Oksana is a Ukrainian girl tricked, raped and forced into an Italian brothel controlled by Russian organized crime. At the beginning of Act 2 she has escaped and is living at a refugee shelter run by a Canadian priest in Brindisi. The story concerns her relationship with the priest, her desire to return to her family and her pimp’s determination to get his hands on her again. It’s dramatic, emotionally charged and ends badly. It’s neither overly melodramatic nor crushingly intellectual and it works very well as an opera libretto. Somewhat oddly it’s written in four languages; English, Italian, Russian and Ukrainian, apparently for essentially “naturalistic” reasons. I think the logic is off but it didn’t reduce my enjoyment of the piece. Continue reading