Much of the world's enduring literature -- stories, fables, fairy tales and even stage plays and operas -- deals with the clash between good and evil. Some of grand opera's vivid personifications of evil are the police chief Scarpia in Puccini's "Tosca," the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's "Rigoletto" and Iago in his "Otello," and Hagen in Wagner's "Gotterdammerung." Among the villainous women are the Wicked Witch in Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" and Delilah in Saint-Saens' "Samson and Delilah."

With its upcoming production of "Anya17," Opera Parallele is exploring one of the vilest iterations of evil in our day: human trafficking. Viktor is the character in the opera, who, as a modern-day personification of evil, masterminds the abduction of Anya, a young, naive and lonely girl in Eastern Europe. He and his evil cohorts lure her into human slavery via the sex trade.

Adam Gorb, recent winner of the British Composer Award, composed the music to a libretto by Ben Kaye in order to raise awareness of this exploitative secret world in which an estimated 800,000 young women and children are trafficked into the countries of the European Union every year.

According to program notes, "amidst a maelstrom of deception, secrecy, betrayal, violence and apparent hopelessness," the opera explores the minds and motivations of four such women, along with the callousness of their lovers, captors and even some members of their families.

At the very least, the subject matter is uncomfortable and disturbing. But, as most music lovers know, setting a tale to music is like adding color to a painting or three dimensions to a drawing. Music can intensify the message and cause it to reach more deeply into the human soul. This subject matter is indeed a worldwide problem that cries out for broad human help.

The brilliant Nicole Paiement will conduct "Anya17," and the ingenious concept designer-director is Brian Staufenbiel.

Cast members are baritone Victor Benedetti in the role of the heartlessly evil Viktor; soprano Anna Noggle as Anya; mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook as Carole and Natalia; mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm as Elena; soprano Shawnette Sulker as Mila; and tenor Andres Ramirez as both Uri and Gabriel.

An open stage rehearsal, after which Paiement and Staufenbiel will lead the cast and audience in a question-and-answer session, takes place at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Marine's Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter St., in San Francisco. Paiement and Staufenbiel, along with Gorb, will also participate in a panel discussion at the same location at 7 p.m. on June 18. Both events are free and open to the public.

The opera plays 8 p.m. June 20-21 and 4 p.m. June 22 at Marines' Memorial Theatre; tickets, $35-$100, are available at 415-392-4400 and www.operaparallele.org.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILL: The venerable William Shakespeare, whose name is still bandied about all over the planet as though he lived just around everyone's corner, was actually born 450 years ago and died a mere 52 years later. But even as his bones are "a-mouldering in the grave" in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in England's Stratford-upon-Avon in England, his notoriety keeps marching on. Immediate case in point: The San Francisco Choral Artists are throwing a 450th birthday party for him and his friends.

Choral Society leader Magen Solomon, the singers and a few actors are gathering to celebrate the Bard's achievements with a "Midsummer Night's Singing" concert featuring works set to music by his own contemporaries, such as Thomas Morley, and by some more recently Shakespeare-smitten guys, such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Richard Felciano and Paul Chihara. Actors from the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival will deliver monologues and dialogues.

Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St., San Francisco; 4 p.m. Sunday, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland; $12-$30; 415-494-8149, www.sfca.org.

Contact Cheryl North at cherylnorth@hotmail.com.