PWA VETERAN CHOIR TAKES THE STAGE AT SEATTLE OPERA IN THE FALLING & THE RISING
Alongside Seattle Opera, Path with Art has established a veteran cohort choir that will perform within the upcoming chamber opera, The Falling and the Rising. This operatic story of service, sacrifice, and connection will debut in November 2019 at the Tagney Jones Hall in the new Opera Center.
The veteran choir has been in rehearsal for the last three weeks, and opened up about their experience singing with other veterans, sharing in community, and preparing to sing on Seattle Opera’s stage.
Joseph Riley, an Air Force veteran who has been part of the Path with Art Singers for the last two and a half years, was excited for an opportunity to try something new. “I love singing with the choir, the people, the friendships,” he shared, “But what’s exciting about the new group is that we all share a common background. People who go into service are willing to contribute seriously to the greater good, and are interested in being a part of something greater than themselves.”
Michael Hammond, another student artist in the veteran choir, agreed. He shared, “You hear this term, ‘band of brothers,’ and it’s really true. I feel very comfortable around all these guys, and I can’t say that’s the case with people who haven’t had the military experience. I’m sure it has a lot to do with what we went through.”
Melodie first turned to the Army as a way to escape an abusive home life – it was a way of distancing herself from her family and the disturbances that came with living at home. She developed a tight-knit community among her platoon, but when she was discharged for medical reasons during basic training, she lost that closeness, and had to return home. Having been part of the Path with Art Singers for quite some time, she jumped at the chance to participate in a new choral group, specifically for veterans. “I wanted to be with other people who had been in the service, again, to do something together,” Melodie said. “I had never, ever imagined myself singing on the opera stage, but now I can. It makes me think that I can do more than I imagined, that I’m capable of more.”
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 ever-changing reality.
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.
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.
Don't miss this incredible community production. Tickets for The Falling & the Rising are on sale now.