Opera Birmingham Presents GLORY DENIED

Opera Birmingham shares the poignant true story of America's longest-held prisoner of war as he returns home to a country he no longer recognizes. The Alabama premiere of Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied will be performed on Friday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, January 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the Southern Museum of Flight.

Based on Tom Philpott's book of the same name, an interweaving of oral histories with a foreword by Senator John McCain, Glory Denied is the story of an American family during the turbulent Vietnam War era. This intimate chamber opera chronicles the saga of Colonel Jim Thompson, from his suffering in the jungles of Southeast Asia, through nearly a decade of captivity, to the personal struggles of his family following his liberation and repatriation. (For a full synopsis of Glory Denied, visit www.operabirmingham.org/glory-denied.)

This intimate operatic masterpiece features a luminous score set to a deeply moving libretto by Tom Cipullo and Tom Philpott. The opera will be performed as written in English, but will also be presented with projected English titles, so you can follow every word. Featuring a quartet of singers, the opera is narrated entirely by the voices of Jim and his wife, Alyce, in older and younger incarnations. The dynamic cast of singers includes baritone Corey McKern, a long-time favorite of Opera Birmingham audiences and a native of Pelham, as "Older Jim," soprano Caroline Worra as "Older Alyce," tenor John Riesen as "Younger Jim," and Birmingham-based soprano Kathleen Farrar Buccleugh as "Younger Alyce." Music will be directed by Cris Frisco, who will also accompany on piano; and the stage will be under the direction of John Hoomes.

General Director Keith A. Wolfe explained, "Glory Denied has been called 'one of the most unforgettable and heartbreaking books ever written about the Vietnam War,' and as an opera, the music really heightens the emotion to a new level that can really touch our souls. I'm excited that we are able to bring this piece to our community, expanding how the arts can address socially relevant topics and reach into communities to start important conversations. Glory Denied has helped us share the sacrifices made by those who serve in our armed forces, through our Birmingham Speaks partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and UAB's Institute for Arts in Medicine, helping us to give back to our community."

Another way Opera Birmingham is making this performance accessible in the community is by taking this production outside of the typical theatre setting, and presenting it in an interesting new way at the Southern Museum of Flight. "Seeing this story told in the main museum gallery of the Southern Museum of Flight, with all of the period planes around us, will be a unique experience for our audience, both newcomers and seasoned Opera Birmingham patrons alike," said Wolfe. "It will feel as if the set is surrounding the audience to create an immersive experience. For someone who hasn't been to an opera before, this show is definitely not what you think of when you hear about opera, and the Southern Museum of Flight will be the perfect setting to give opera a try."

General admission adult tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at www.operabirmingham.org, by calling 205-322-6737, or in person at the Opera Birmingham office (3601 Sixth Ave. S). Student tickets ($10) are available for all Opera Birmingham performances to students age 25 or under, and must be purchased in person with a valid full-time student ID at the door prior to each performance, subject to availability. To inquire about rates for groups of 10 or more, call 205-322-6737.

Glory Denied ticket-holders also have the opportunity to engage before and after the performances. A pre-performance chat will take place one hour prior to each performance, offering exclusive insights from Opera Birmingham's general director, Mr. Wolfe, and guests. Immediately following the performance, there will be a talk-back with the cast, moderated by Wolfe, joined by mental health professionals from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These special opportunities are open to all ticket-holders!

This production of Glory Denied is sponsored by a generous contribution from Regions. Opera Birmingham's 2018-2019 season is made possible, in part, by grants from the Alabama Power Foundation, The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Alabama State Council on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts. Opera Birmingham's 2018-2019 season continues with Tosca on March 15 & 17, and the 41st Annual Vocal Competition on May 18 & 19. Mini-season ticket packages are still available. Season ticket holders receive a discount off individual performance ticket prices, as well as priority seating and other exclusive benefits.

For more information regarding Opera Birmingham and upcoming performances, visit OperaBirmingham.org or call 205-322-6737, and connect with Opera Birmingham on Facebook, Twitter @OperaBham, and Instagram @OperaBirmingham. Opera Birmingham, the only professional opera company in Northern and Central Alabama, has entertained audiences for over 60 years.

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