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