The Falling and The Rising

Libretto by Jerre Dye

Dedicated to Sergeant First Class Ben Hilgert

Co-Commissioned by Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Memphis, TCU, Seagle Music Colony and US Army Field Band and Soldier's Chorus


The Falling and the Rising centers around a strong female hero known only as “Soldier”. After sending a video message home on the eve of her daughter’s thirteenth birthday, our soldier is severely wounded by a roadside IED. Doctors quickly place her in an induced coma to help minimize the extensive trauma to her brain. The soldier must now make an arduous journey towards both healing and home. The Falling and the Rising chronicles the imagined journey of a soldier suspended inside a coma. We follow as she makes her way through a miraculous coma-induced dreamscape- one punctuated with the lives of other fellow service members, each on their own individual journey toward healing and home. Together, they must move toward clarity, comfort, consciousness, and communal hope during a time of adversity. This operatic soldier’s odyssey was created in hopes of capturing the indomitable spirit of our U.S. military veterans and to shed light on the inspirational power of their often overlooked stories. The Falling and the Rising is a story of family, service, and sacrifice inside a period of great uncertainty.


Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
Character List

  • Soldier (Soprano D4-C6)

  • Toledo/Doctor 1* (Mezzo A3-A5)

  • Jumper/Doctor 2* (Tenor E3-C5)

  • Homecoming Soldier/Doctor 3* (Baritone A2-G4)

  • Colonel/Doctor 4* (Bass Baritone G2-F4)

  • Optional Chorus to join in the Finale

*Optional to double up on Doctors to include Doctors 5-8

*Also Optional to have doctors all be separate cast members to accommodate a larger cast

Orchestra Requirements

Bb Clarinet, French Horn, Percussion 1 (Vibraphone, Snare Drum, Glockenspiel, Bass Drum, Triangle, Tambourine, Suspended Cymbal), Percussion 2 (Marimba, 4 Timpani, Tam-tam, Suspended Cymbal, Glockenspiel), Piano*, Guitar, 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Double Bass

*Works well with piano reduction and 5 actors if orchestra and larger is cost/company prohibitive

Untitled Petr Ginz Opera

Libretto by Jerre Dye

Based on the life and diaries of Petr Ginz


Petr Ginz, a brilliant young boy/author/painter/poet who, before being captured and taken to Terezin and Auschwitz, chronicled his time in occupied Prague between 1941-1942 in a now famous diary. During his time in Terezin he continued to paint and write. Some of the works survived. An avid fan of Jules Verne (one of Petr’s novels is called Around the World in One Second), we hope to tell Petr's story, whilst capturing his unique and fantastic view of the world by weaving in and out of Verne-like realities.  This opera would be geared towards both families and the general public as both a moving emotionally driven uplifting story of resilience in the face of adversity and outreach education. 


Duration: ca.60 minutes


  • Petr Ginz - Either Mezzo or Counter Tenor

  • Otto Ginz - Tenor

  • Maria Ginz - Light Mezzo

  • Eva Ginz - Coloratura Soprano

  • Other friends/family

  • Guards/imagined beings

Orchestra Requirements: None as of yet

Where we’re at: We've sketched out some ideas and spoken informally with the US Holocaust Museum about a collaboration, but we are still in the beginning stages looking for co-commissioners.

A Song For Susan Smith

Libretto by Mark Campbell

Scene 1 originally composed for Brittney Redler

Workshopped by CU Boulder, Ft. Worth Opera, and the Virginia Arts Festival’s John Duffy Institute


In October 1994, Susan Smith, a woman from Union, South Carolina, claimed that an African-American man had hijacked her car and kidnapped her two sons, Michael and Alex. The country was immediately gripped by the story while an intensive federal search was launched and Ms. Smith went on national television to plead for her sons’ return. Finally, after nine days, Ms. Smith broke down and admitted to a local sheriff that she had drowned her sons after letting the car in which they slept roll into a local lake. A Song for Susan Smith is a chamber opera that explores the psychological and sociological factors that drove this woman to commit filicide and how the act affected her community.


Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Character List

  • Susan Smith (Soprano)

  • David Smith (Baritone)

  • Bev Russell (Tenor)

  • Linda Smith (Mezzo)

  • Shirley McCloud (Mezzo)

  • Carlisle Henderson (Tenor)

  • Sheriff Wells (Bass Baritone)

  • Announcer 1*

  • Announcer 2*

  • Police Artist*

  • Interrogator*

  • Callers*

*can potentially be doubled with some of the cast

 Orchestra Requirements*

Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Bassoon, 2 French Horns, Percussion, Piano**, Harp, 4 Violins, 2 Violas, 2 Cellos, Double Bass

*this orchestration was written for a performance of Scene 1 at the Virginia Arts Festival, and can thus be altered for any premier performance

**The piece also works very well with a piano reduction

If you’d like more info, please reach out via the form! :)

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