a chamber opera in seven scenes

Emma-Ruth Richards

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a chamber opera in seven scenes

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Composer Emma-Ruth Richards
Year of Composition 2016-2020
Duration ca.75'


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Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-err1t1


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Traffick is an opera about violence, desperation and loss that reveals, in part, the terrifying expansive underworld of the trafficking ‘profession’. Unravelling the experiences of four trafficked persons, it explores the survival mechanisms employed by the individual, the caveats imposed by the socio-political apparatus, and the idea that someone who survives a situation in which they have had no jurisdiction over their own body may ultimately be granted no ownership of that suffering.

Traffick is about the bureaucratization of traumatic experience and the compressed period of ‘recovery and reflection’ involved. For healing to begin, deep wounds must be opened, and yet the period of funded support is of insufficient duration to deal with those wounds. When a survivor is compelled to leave the system, therefore, they are likely to be susceptible to re-trafficking. Outside of the safe house, if the only person a survivor knows is their trafficker, how likely are they to establish a secure and independent existence?

The characters in this opera are based chiefly on testimonials discovered through the incredible work of the Helen Bamber Foundation and publications by Rachel Witkin. Lydia Cacho’s book ‘Slavery Inc’ and Mimi Chakarova’s documentary ‘The Price of Sex’ have also provided invaluable insight into the industry.

Music: Emma-Ruth Richards

Text: Nic Chalmers

Libretto commissioned by Nordland Teater (Norway)

Orchestration funded by The Composers’ Fund (PRS for Music Foundation)