Friday, September 13, 2019

New chamber opera shares true stories from U.S. military

Photo by Ziggy Mack

Working with military veterans, Seattle Opera brings service and sacrifice to the stage. In partnership with Path with Art, The Falling and the Rising features chorus of former soldiers 

Nov. 15, 17, 20, 22, & 24, 2019
The Opera Center: 363 Mercer St.
General admission: $45 | Military discount: $35

Tickets & info:

When Seattle Opera opened the doors to its new facility at Seattle Center last year, the company promised that the new, highly visible location would help more people find and experience opera. This fall, the company’s first chamber opera in the building is sure to do just that. The Falling and the Rising, a new American work, is based upon a series of interviews with returning soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, The Old Guard at Fort Myer, and Fort Meade, Maryland.

“Through our chamber operas, Seattle Opera has offered powerful narratives and important moments of representation: a transgender woman’s journey, one family impacted by Japanese American incarceration, a queer love story, and more,” said Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Seattle Opera Director of Programs and Partnerships. “This fall, we present a new chamber opera based on powerful testimonials from American soldiers whose stories often go untold.”

The Falling and the Rising will be the first chamber opera presented at The Opera Center. Sean Airhart photo
The Falling and the Rising was first conceived of by Staff Sergeant Benjamin Hilgert of the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus, which then commissioned librettist Jerre Dye and composer Zach Redler to help create the opera. Thus far, the work has been performed by San Diego Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Memphis, and Seagle Music Colony. When Seattle Opera presents the piece in November, the company will offer something unique in the composition’s history: a chorus made up of veterans recovering from homelessness and other trauma. The chorus singers are participants in a local nonprofit program, Path with Art.

“We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with the Seattle Opera as we at Path with Art focus on more avenues to better serve the veteran community, deepen cross-sector partnerships, and continue to lift the voices of all people, regardless of circumstance,” said Holly Jacobson, Path with Art Executive Director.

Path with Art, an organization that works with individuals recovering from homelessness and other trauma, is organizing a chorus of former veterans for The Falling and the Rising. 
This opera tells the story of a comatose soldier’s inner journey after she has suffered a roadside attack. As her consciousness traverses a coma-induced dreamscape, the audience serves as both companion and witness to her journey. Along the way, we share encounters with fellow service members, each one on the brink of a discovery of their own. Together, they seek clarity and communal hope through their shared resilience in facing a murky and everchanging reality. 

Returning Seattle Opera artists include Tess Altiveros (Soldier) most recently E in O+E (‘18), Damien Geter (Colonel) who made his debut as the Undertaker in Porgy and Bess (’18), and Jorell Williams who made his debut as Hannah before in As One (’16). Making principal debuts are two singers who have previously performed with the Seattle Opera Chorus: Elizabeth Galafa (Toledo) and Tim Janecke (Jumper).

Photo by Ziggy Mack
Joshua Rodriguez, a member of the Board of Directors of Seattle Opera explained that The Falling and the Rising is especially meaningful to him as a veteran of Kunar and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan and a current Major in the Army Reserve.

“This is an important undertaking that has been the high point of my time working with Seattle Opera,” Rodriguez said. “While Hollywood has done an incredible job highlighting the heroics and actions of a small few, some of my fellow vets have felt left behind, their stories untold. This opera, however, brings forward the reality of those who left a part of themselves in the war. Opera-lover or not, everyone should see this.” 

In addition to Path with Art, Seattle Opera will be partnering with several community and service organizations to better shed light on the experiences of U.S. service members. Following every performance of The Falling and the Rising, the audience is invited to stay for a post-show conversation spotlighting organizations that work to improve the lives of local veterans.

Photo by Ziggy Mack