by Becca Clarkson
VANCOUVER – Starting November 3, City Opera Vancouver with Pacific Opera Victoria will present the world premiere of Missing, an unprecedented operatic dialogue around the 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
The chamber opera, which is told in both English and a First Nation’s language, Gitxsan, follows the story of Ava (Caitlin Wood) and ‘Unknown Native Girl’ (Melody Courage) as they cross tragic paths between Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and BC’s notorious Highway of Tears.
Marie Clements, a Métis filmmaker and playwright was commissioned to write her first libretto for the opera, though her portfolio includes many projects focused on the national crisis taking place between the Downtown Eastside and Highway of Tears. “This reality has stayed with me for a long time, so as an artist it makes sense that I’ve tried to express it in different forms,” Clements says. “It’s important that we try and create an awareness, dialogue and sense of empathy around what is happening in our country.”
Clements also thinks it’s important to show both an Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspective of the national crisis. “It’s hard to reconcile if we’re not facing our history and how our present is affected by history,” she adds. “It’s important that we engage with different perspectives, in conversations or ideas, that are not comfortable.”
The team behind Missing hopes to reach past opera’s already loyal audience to honour the memory of every missing and murdered Indigenous woman, as well as the communities and family facing their loss.
Missing runs from Nobember 3 – 11 at the York Theatre.Art, Indigenous, Missing, opera, theatre, Vancouver, York Theatre