When an opera about the military is performed in Seattle this month, it will, for the first time, feature a chorus full of U.S. Military veterans.
The opera, The Falling and the Rising, was commissioned by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus.
“The opera is based on interviews with soldiers and veterans in recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center,” said Alejandra Valarino Boyer, with Seattle Opera Programs and Partnerships.
Boyer says the story centers around a soldier who suffers a traumatic brain injury from a road side bomb.
“She is placed in a coma, and during this medically induced coma, she is having these very vivid dreams,” Boyer said.
Soldiers appear in the soldier’s dreams to support her as she recovers and transitions home. Each soldier also reveals his or her own challenges. One is disabled, another mourns the amount of time he had to spend away from family, and another left the military only to realize it was home.
Chorus member Melodie Clarke understands that.
“I went into the Army mainly to escape an abusive home,” Clarke said, but she was medically boarded out because of asthma. “I found a family and got torn away from them.”
Fellow troops weigh on the heart of Ryan Mielcarek, too. While serving with the Navy SeaBees, he was deployed to Iraq.
“As SeaBees, we’re in a support role and I always say I never feel truly exceptional,” Mielcarek. “I feel exceptionally obligated because I never got the worst of it.”
While the opera’s lead rolls will be performed by professional