Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder

March 28th 2014
…and Human Trafficking also doesn’t happen in Dorset

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder

March 28th 2014
It doesn’t happen in Wiltshire

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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December 16th 2013
Together in Legislation…


All of us who have been involved with Anya17 are very encouraged to learn that the increased public awareness and pressure exerted by so many Anti-Trafficking / Slavery initiatives and organisations in the past years has resulted in proposed legislation to recognise and attempt to address the multiple issues of modern day Slavery in the UK.


Anya17 was written to raise awareness of modern day Slavery, and the Sex Trafficking of adults and minors in particular, and perhaps therefore surely we should take some satisfaction in having helped spread the message and raising awareness of these issues?


The real truth is that we know many of the NGOs supporting Anya17 have differing opinions and reservations about the proposed legislation as it stands. All of these conviction-driven NGOs are trying to do ‘the right thing’, so understandably many of these indispensable organisations attack the problems from slightly different angles.


Many are on ‘the front line’, dealing with victims every day, some are on ‘the front line’ but concentrate their efforts on rescuing children… or on rescuing adults. The greatest strengths of some are in advocacy, awareness, cooperation, legislation or in the prosecution of Traffickers.


The real work is therefore just beginning…


The important thing we all must recognise is that:


The next few months will be a very difficult time – a time in which alliances may be brokered, broken and re-formed, perhaps ultimately to the detriment of less-influential organisations, or more importantly, to the victims.


Politics is a slippery, difficult game. I just hope that whatever becomes Law will be for the benefit of ALL victims – past, present and future.



It is far more important to provide a united front in terms of proposed legislation than to allow our different initiatives to fall into dis-unity. If this happens then the Government will be provided with a real opportunity to negotiate with various ‘major’ players and ‘pick and choose’ in terms of the legislation proposed. The Human Trafficking Foundation has provided leadership, a Forum and an ideas-exchange, and I hope that they will be able to pull together our disparate ideas but unified goals into a coherent initiative, against which any opposition to new legislation may not find any defence.


Only time will tell… but please let us not waste the time, nor the opportunity. Let’s just make it happen.

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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December 7th 2013
Second Review of Anya17 in Germany

“No champagne this evening, no Premierengeschnatter (Premiere Chatter). Only concern. And silence. Then applause, roaring loudly after seventy minutes of silence…”


No champagne this evening, no Premierengeschnatter. Only concern. And silence. Then applause, roaring loudly after seventy minutes of silence. No known opera evening in Meiningen Kammerspielen, for many reasons. The subject is not a unusual in musical theater: the prostitute, the prostitute. But it is not those romanticized as the Alban Berg’s Lulu or Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata”. Instead, it’s about young flesh, fresh from Eastern Europe, numbered. Thus, no suitor has to bother with pesky name when he ordered the goods woman.

Forced prostitution. To raise this issue on a stage as well, as it creates through the means of music that pretends less images rather in the minds of the audience that has to Adam Gorb not a composer still married. “Anya 17″ has the Briton called his chamber opera, translation superfluous, as superfluous as the concrete location of the plot. Anya’s story could play anywhere between Eastern and Western Europe: A poor girl who loves for the first time. Want to believe the nice thing about this life in the West, which promises you the beloved. And then without it ending up in a dump. For money to buy, day and night.

Tell that everything is from the perspective of women to men has librettist Ben Kaye the marginal roles intended for, ugly roles: love vorgaukelnde decoy Uri that sex with love be confused Free Gabriel (both parts sung by Rodrigo Porras Garulo) and the brutal pimp Viktor . Stephanos Tsirakoglou shows him as a patronizing dealer who supplies the market only what this requires. And for that the hand is staying.

The market wants girls like Anya, whose dismay flashes her fate from each shooed views from every gesture, from each desperate tone of Anne Ellersiek. He also wants girls like Natalia (Carolina Krogius), happy girls, raped by father, clarified by strangers at age ten, twelve working the streets. He wants girls like the blind Elena (Camila Ribero-Souza), bruised resigned to their existence. But he does not want a girl like Mila (Elif Aytekin) whose body apparently suffers from this market than for a Free favor could find him. The reason has to die is disposed of.

Director Mareike Zimmermann leaves the four women occur in nude Suites, like bathing suits with sewn breasts and buttocks. The alienated, makes the scenes appear grotesque. The sex is just as ugly as those men who thus make a deal in this oppressive intensive production. The viewer comes when looking at the stage like a voyeur before looking to a container with mirror foil, the times reflected, sometimes gives a view of the scene free.

What happens twice in the music Gorb that makes kicks and punches audible. According opulent with two musicians on percussion is the fifteen-member Court Orchestra under the direction of the first Kapellmeister Leo McFall occupied. It leads – enriched with quotes – sound in two opposite spheres. After kicking off with folklore bonds it changes with the flight to the West. Commented it the glittering world of the goods ironically with Broadway and jazz. In the score, there are so cliché, as well as on stage plenty of cliche-affected can be seen, the touched yet or perhaps because. At the end of a little hope for Anya.

More still affected after all the pain, blood, fear. No known opera evening.

Further performances on 8./14. December 10 January 8 February every 20 clock

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder

December 7th 2013
First Review of Anya17 from Germany

Following Anya17′s fully-staged World Premiere in Meiningen, Germany, fantastic reviews have started pouring in.

Please forgive the ‘Google Translate’ for this first review, but Team Anya17 wanted to give you a flavour of how the opera has been received…

“And now you sit with open eyes, open ears and anxious heart in the intimate theatre and be amazed once again about what is possible on the stage this side of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini.”


In the Meininger Kammerspielen were in terms of “Opera of the small form” already experiencing some positive surprises, even in discordant spheres without bel canto, without fuss, without glorification. But of course no chance of ever reaching the general public, the majority gleefully leans back in his chair and when needed commented: “. A stupid staging, but singing and music were divine”.

And now you sit with open eyes, open ears and anxious heart in the intimate theatre and be amazed once again about what is possible on the stage this side of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. Neither stupid nor divine can be heard, but deeply human – in all inscrutability and without the slightest trace of romantic transfiguration. It is a new experience that a subject that can be found treated appropriately in film, literature or reports, also fits in the space of an opera stage: forced prostitution of women and girls from poor countries to wealthy countries of Western civilization – a worldwide phenomenon and a billion dollar business.

The British composer Adam Gorb and his librettist Ben Kaye locate their opera “Anya 17″ somewhere in Western Europe and the focus to the suffering of the young Anya (Anne Ellersiek) from an unspecified country in Eastern Europe. Anya believes the promises of their supposed loved ones (Rodrigo Porras Garulo) and does, along with other women, on their way to the Golden West – in a van. The women fall directly into the clutches of a ruthless pimp (Stephanos Tsirakoglou), which robs them of their passport and identity and providing them with numbers. Anya has the number 17 One of the suitors (Porras Garulo) they seem to revere particular.

Gorb and Kaye presented the opera in the UK as a concert performance with great resonance in public. The premiere of “Anya 17″ in an arrangement for the theater now was directed by Mareike Zimmermann held in Meiningen, accompanied by the court orchestra in chamber orchestra with the sovereign young conductor Leo McFall at the desk.

Most viewers have no idea what to expect: a 70-minute non-stop, highly concentrated story, sung in English with German surtitles. In a musical interpretation of events and soul moods that sometimes, sometimes reminiscent of Britten, sometimes to Schoenberg and Alban Berg, sometimes in amber to jazz rhythms – a painful exciting universe of atonal sounds, in the in the moments in which the basic psychological moods the victims emerge, small creep harmonies but now radically broken again.

The spectators are confronted with the inhumane life of prostitutes in a brothel. Anya is exceedingly desperate, Natalia (Carolina Krogius), the supervisor acts as merciless disciplinarian, Mila (Elif Aytekin) is just as shocked as Anya and the blind Elena (Camila Ribero-Souza) already seems sunk in depression. Can Anya, can ever escape this hell someone? Nothing appears designed or embellished. Language is both poetic, brutal and raw. The plot thickens on scenes in and around a glass cage – an insular universe, the production designer Isabel Graf has designed. The discs are roughened and scratched.Depending on the position of the front wall to reflect the actors and the audience. At least the male part of the audience probably guess how close those abysmally dark world of his own dark side of the soul comes – at least the voyeuristic. Finally, it can not exist without the civilized citizens as a suitor this profitable trade.

The audience looks confused at the end (to the hackneyed “affected” to avoid). It takes a few seconds longer than usual, to the applause begins. The applause then comes plentiful. The viewers are upset by the news and at the same time fascinated by the vocal performance of the artists – return to the outside the innermost depths of her characters – without traditional beautiful singing. It’ll go, at least in this kind of opera, not the voices, but the character and the story, Adam Gorb said in an interview. There is nothing to add. What emerges from the public, remains to be seen. Following the coming soon “Nachgespräche” with the composer and socially committed experts will be offered.

Siggi Seuss


Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 28th 2013
“I used to be… ‘beautiful Elena from Tulica’”

With the fully-staged world premiere of Anya17 less than 5 hours away, there’s just enough time for me to give you a glimpse of Camila Ribero-Souza, who plays the blinded “Elena”.

“They beat me so hard… I thought I would die. Then, I hoped they wouldn’t stop – I longed for death…”

“I used to be… ‘beautiful Elena from Tulica’, now I’m just ‘The Blind Girl’…”

“At least I don’t have to look anymore at their drunken… sweating… grunting… faces…”


Camila Ribero-Souza plays Elena, blinded by her Traffickers

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder

November 28th 2013
Behind The Scenes

How many people does it take to change a light bulb?

I don’t know the answer to that ever-philosophical question,
but I can tell you that if your opera includes a fight sequence, and you therefore
find yourself chatting not only to The Director, but also with the specialist “Fight
Director”, you will suddenly realise that you are in Germany… and just how
seriously opera is treated in over here.

I think that there are only about two or three of the Anya17 cast “in shot” in this photo. All the
essential others you can see are from the Ensemble, Lighting, Costume Design, Prompting,
Props, Set Design, Choreography, Audio, Video, Hair, Makeup, etc. etc. – you name it.

It’s a different world over here!

Only hours to go before the premiere now…


Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 26th 2013
Stunning Full Dress Rehearsal of Anya17 in Germany

I was privileged to be at an extraordinary event last night; the first fully-staged dress rehearsal of Anya17 performed by the truly talented international cast and musicians of Das Meininger Theater.

To say that the performance took my breath away would be a master-stroke of British understatement.

Nearly 24 hours later, I still haven’t had the time to fully absorb the power of the show, and revise my appraisal from a series of stammering superlatives to a more objective view. I just can’t begin to describe it.

Adam Gorb and I spent a portion of this morning doing a Radio follow-up to an earlier TV interview – I’ll let you know if either will be available on the net.

In the meantime – another full run-through tonight, so more news tomorrow!

The blinded Elena (Camila Ribero-Souza) drinks as Anya (Anne Ellersiek) tries to come to terms with her plight

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 21st 2013
Breaking News: Slavery in the UK today…

Many thanks to Richard Wistreich at the RNCM for alerting the Anya17 team to this story. I can only say that fact is often more terrible and disturbing than fiction:

Apologies all if this link doesn’t work – I’ve only tried three times.

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 16th 2013
The Calm before the Storm

In about a week, I will be heading down to Meiningen Germany to Das Meininger Theater to attend the fully-staged world premiere of Anya17 (and many subsequent performances over the coming months).

When you are in the midst of a long-term project, it can be all too easy to look forward with trepidation and be forced to accept the sudden realisation that you have “so far to go…”

Today (for a change) I decided to take the opposite view and “stopped on the mountainside” to look back and see just how far we had actually come.

From the genus of an idea, the amazing Anya17 team has:

1. Premiered concert performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Ensemble 10/10 and The Royal Northern College of Music.

2. Gained extensive coverage to raise awareness of Human Trafficking on the brilliant BBC and with many many others (as far afield as South Korea and Australia).

3. Premiered Anya17 in Romania and received an invitation to take the opera all over Romania by The Ministry of Internal Affairs (in conjunction with The UK-Romania Friendship Foundation and their wonderfully-successful International Human Trafficking Symposium).

4. Secured a USA premiere with Opera Parallele in San Francisco in 2014, and used the opportunity to engage a swathe of Human Rights groups and Media in America.

5. Won the “Best Film or Stage Production Dealing with Human Trafficking” Award at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards last year at The House of Commons, promoted by The Human Trafficking Foundation.

6. Gained the official endorsement of thirteen Anti-Trafficking NGOs, many of whom we hope will attend the German premiere.

7. A performance in Feb next year in Wales is currently awaiting confirmation, whilst other potential performances in the UK with the original Cast are at such an early stage that… let’s just wait and see…

Yes, we do have a long way to go.

Sometimes though it’s good to look back and gain confidence and inspiration for the future, from the successes of the past.

I haven’t met any of the Singers or Musicians who will be performing Anya17 in Germany. I haven’t even yet met the Director, the Conductor, the Costume Designer or any of the others.

I did though receive an email from one of the Singers, who is playing the part of “Elena” in Germany. I won’t relate the email because all these thoughts will be appearing on the blog soon.

All I can say is that “the passion lives on…”