City Opera Vancouver has scored a US$250,000 commissioning grant to bring a chamber opera about the 2004 Battle of Fallujah to the stage.
The grant from the Annenberg Foundation, a private U.S.-based family foundation, will go toward creating an operatic libretto and score based on the real-life experiences of U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Christian Ellis. The concept for the work was developed by Explore.org, a project of the Annenberg Foundation that documents the stories of leaders who have devoted their lives to important causes.
“City Opera’s role here is one of development,” said COV board president Nora Kelly. “The company will oversee the creation of an operatic libretto and score based on Christian Ellis’ story. Ellis was an American Marine in Iraq, but the story is universal. Our goal is to share a deeper truth about humanity, told through music, and to put a human face to both sides of military conflict.”
The opera’s libretto is to be written in consultation with Ellis by celebrated Iraqi-American playwright Heather Raffo, who wrote the award-winning play 9 Parts of Desire, while the score will be penned by Vancouver-based composer Tobin Stokes.
“Their expertise makes them deft handlers of this sensitive and extremely relevant subject,” said COV artistic director Charles Barber. “They are a perfect team for this project.”
The company will mount a series of four development workshops starting in May, with the work slated for completion in June 2012. Production funding will be raised separately.