The regime created a cruel social hierarchy categorizing people according to their sex and stripped women of their public rights, including the rights to education and creation.
The authors, known as Roya, Meena Z., Fattemah AH, and Freshta, conceived their poems during clandestine creative writing workshops under the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.
In this context, The Airport Society collective’s founder Krystian Lada’s decision to take the extraordinary texts written by contemporary Afghan female poets – under a pseudonym and in a politically restricted situation – and adapt them into an opera seems extremely strong.
Lada – a director, librettist, dramaturg, and music activist – repeatedly insists that correcting historic operas is not his aim.
Her performance brings an overwhelming sense of despair but also a peculiar tenacity.
Californian singer and transgender woman, Lucia Lucas offers a rare and brilliant bass-baritone that intertwines with falsetto in a vital dialogue between a victim and executioner, bringing the disturbing effect of a disjointed and broken narrative.
However, when studied carefully, it simultaneously forms this intimacy’s most significant criticism.
No opera heroine sings an affirmation of her positive experience.
“If I were not a woman / Aaa / the day I was born / Aaa / My mama would not have suffered (…) If I were not a woman / I could wear the light colours I love and drive the car if I wished to / I could marry my girlfriend.” Women’s desires in all their diversity are relegated to the ‘unknown’ space, revealing how ambivalent the experience of physical and symbolic violence is. She describes a little girl’s dream to participate in a school sport competition; a bomb attack breaks the dream (“I Thought It Was a Dream but When I Woke, I Couldn’t Walk”).
Freshta also exposes the scale of humiliation and internal destruction caused by rape and sexual violence in prison (“Sexual Assault”).