Opera Parallèle couldn’t have known two years ago when they scheduled it just how timely their production of Flight would be, but the Jonathan Dove opera is centered around a refugee unable to leave an airport. Artistic Director Nicole Paiement says it was inspired by the real-life story of the Iranian refugee who found himself stuck at Charles DeGaulle Airport, but has a cast of other travellers also stuck, waiting out a storm.
“The opera is really about the human condition,” Paiement explains. “We have this refugee that is stuck… but it’s a lot about the people that… all these various people that come from various places in their lives that arrive at the airport. Everyone is stuck at the airport because of the storm.” There’s a young couple looking to rekindle their romance, a diplomat and his pregnant wife on their way to a new posting, a woman who believes a much younger man who suggested marriage will come to meet her at the terminal. As they interact and get to know eachother (along with a steward, stewardess, ‘controller’ and immigration officer) they change and grow. “At the beginning,” she says, “the refugee asks for their help, because the immigration officer comes by, and no one is interested in helping him. And at the end of the opera, the immigration officer comes back again, and by that time, when he asks for help, everyone is wanting to help him. And so, it’s a great study of how people relate, and when you are put into a situation the community gets together and helps each other out.”