British Columbia

New opera to tell story of missing and murdered women

Written as a chamber piece, Missing Women, will incorporate Aboriginal themes and music.

City Opera Vancouver has received a grant from Vancouver Foundation to produce the opera “Missing Women”

City Opera Vancouver has received a grant from the Vancouver Foundation to produce the new opera, "Missing Women." Playwright and filmmaker Marie Clements has been chosen as the librettist. (City Opera Vancouver)

Set in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and along the Highway of Tears, a new opera is in the works that will tell the tragic story of Canada's missing and murdered indigenous women.

Written as a chamber piece, Missing Women, will incorporate Aboriginal themes and music. 

First Nations filmmaker, playwright and performance artist Marie Clements will be the librettist for the opera. Clements was approached by City Opera for the project.

She says she is privileged to tell the stories of Canada's missing and murdered women, a tragedy that weighs heavily in B.C. where there are at least 65 unsolved cases dating back to 1951.

"To bear witness to that in my time is something that lives in me," she said.  Clement hopes the opera will allow audiences to immerse themselves in their stories.

"You look at the faces of these beautiful young woman and you wonder what could they have been? Where would their life have gone? Would they have gone to school? You know you look at your child and there is something in that where you can't help but going what if I lost my child in that way?" she said.

The Vancouver Foundation awarded a grant of $127,000 to help produce the piece. The world premiere is expected on November 1, 2017 in Vancouver.

The intent is to take the show on the road throughout B.C., and to other Canadian communities, where Clements says the story needs to be heard, including Ottawa.

Marie Clements is a playwright, filmmaker and librettist for the upcoming chamber opera, "Missing Women." (Charlie Cho/CBC)

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Missing Women opera's librettist Marie Clements with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

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