Army's FALLING AND THE RISING To Debut At Opera America New Works Forum

Army's FALLING AND THE RISING To Debut At Opera America New Works Forum

A new American opera highlighting the sacrifices and comradery of American soldiers will be presented by the U.S. Army in partnership with Opera Memphis at the OPERA America New Works Forum.

An idea more than three years in the making, the opera was created using the shared stories of dozens of active duty soldiers and veterans, The U.S. Army Field Band, a composer, and a librettist.

The idea began in 2015 when a tenor in the Army Field Band's Soldiers' Chorus, Sgt. 1st Class Ben Hilgert, first proposed the idea of telling the Army story through opera.

"I had drawn up this really detailed proposal for our commander," Hilgert said. "By August, I was at OPERA America's National Opera Center in the president and CEO's office with Col. (Jim) Keene talking about this idea. We wanted to work with opera companies that had a history of military connections, but we wanted to have veterans and active duty soldiers be the ones to tell their story and then bring it to the opera stage."

The opera by Zach Redler, composer, and Jerre Dye, librettist, was inspired by collective interviews with dozens of active duty Army veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

"The Falling and The Rising" chronicles the imagined journey of a soldier suspended inside a coma following a roadside attack. Throughout the story, she makes her way through a coma-induced dreamscape punctuated by powerful encounters with other fellow service members, each on the brink of discovery. Together, they must find clarity, consciousness and communal hope inside a strange and ever-shifting universe. This operatic soldier's odyssey was created to honor the indomitable spirit of our military veterans and to shed light on the power of their often overlooked stories.

"'The Falling and The Rising' follows a recent trend of contemporary operas with military stories: Dog Days, The Long Walk, Glory Denied and Soldier Songs," said Garnett Bruce, Artistic Advisor of the San Antonio Opera who is assisting with the piece as an independent producer. "But this is the first opera produced and performed by active duty soldiers. Their connection, experience and commitment honors those who serve in defense of the nation and its ideals."

The opera is not only a powerful story for those who haven't had the opportunity to serve in the military, but also for those now serving our country.

"I have a whole new understanding of my role as a soldier," Hilgert said. "You can't hear those stories and it not change you. This project tells the Army story in a very human way. The stories contained in the opera speak truth to the service of soldiers, while at the same time highlighting the resiliency and strength demanded of them."


COST: Free, but must be reserved

The Falling and the Rising was commissioned by: The U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus, San Diego Opera, Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Memphis and Texas Christian University, and developed at the American Center for New Works Development at Seagle Music Colony.

About The U.S. Army Field Band:

The U.S. Army Field Band tours nationally and internationally as directed by the Department of the Army, and serves as the liaison between the Army and the American people. The Army Field Band consists of four performing components and a far-reaching educational program. Each concert tour is sponsored by a local organization with the mission of supporting local community events such as centennial celebrations, festivals, and city and state commemorations. To become a sponsor or for more information, visit

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