Schmopera–OKSANA G.: “IT’S SO OUT OF THIS WORLD, AND YET SO REALISTIC.”
“These are not just, as we would think, troubled teenagers. They are regular girls, young women.” Ukrainian-Canadian soprano Natalya Gennadi is referring to the disturbing theme that lies at the heart of Oksana G., the opera by Aaron Gervais and Colleen Murphy which is presented by Tapestry Opera from May 24-30.
The fictional story of Oksana, the young Ukrainian woman who is lured into sex trafficking, is one that Gennadi finds “very realistic.” The 17 year-old student has her heart set on studying in Odessa, but “in Ukraine the economic situation is quite dire,” adds Gennadi. “This guy comes by, he offers her a summer job that pays very well. She basically agrees, and it all goes downhill from there.”
“This is very common, and I have heard lots of stories like this,” she says. Economic desperation and a certain level of naïveté can make it quite simple for recruiters to entice young women with the promise of decently paying work. Gennadi grew up in the Ukraine, and she is of a similar age to Oksana herself. “I understand this desperate desire to improve your life.”