City Opera Vancouver receives grant for film about Iraq War opera

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      City Opera Vancouver has received US$100,000 to finance a documentary film about its new chamber opera which explores the tragedy of the Iraq War.

      The U.S.-based Annenberg Foundation has provided the grant for the film about the making of the opera “Fallujah”, City Opera announced today (July 9).

      The opera was inspired by the experiences of former U.S. Marine Christian Ellis, who took part in the invasion of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.

      “We are thrilled to receive this support,” City Opera president Nora Kelly said in a news release. “It will tell the story of how this remarkable opera came into being, and why.”

      Last year, the Annenberg Foundation, a private philanthropic organization, also provided City Opera with a US$250,000 commissioning grant for “Falluja”., a philanthropic media group affiliated with the Annenberg Foundation, is behind the Fallujah project and will distribute the documentary film online.

      The film is expected to be available online in early September. A trailer is now available at!/videos/player/fallujah-trailer.

      City Opera Vancouver is a professional company whose other commissions include the Margaret Atwood opera “Pauline” and “Brokeback Mountain” based on the Annie Proulx short story.



      Charles Barber

      Jul 9, 2012 at 12:10pm

      Thank you very much for this piece.

      Opera can be a tough sell, and new Canadian opera even tougher. But this is SUCH a great work, and the opportunity to tell it in film and online such a novel opportunity -- for us -- that we couldn't possibly say 'no'.

      Our new chamber opera is a deeply compassionate piece. It is the story of two lives -- one American, one Iraqi -- that intersect with dread consequence at the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. Each voice has equal eloquence and power. Each must be heard by the other.

      Our composer, Canadian Tobin Stokes, and our librettist, American Heather Raffo, have done an extraordinary job making this possible, and real, and memorable.

      Our thanks, Stephen, for telling your readers about it. Vancouver can be an incredible place to do new work.


      capt lock

      Jul 9, 2012 at 3:06pm

      i just did a personnel search thru our data base and found 0 results for any Marine (retired or active) named Christian Ellis. have you guys vetted this guy to make sure he is legit?

      Charles Barber

      Jul 9, 2012 at 11:53pm

      Allo Capt Lock: thanks for yours. We assuredly did enquire. I have seen numerous photos of Chris on duty in Fallujah, have spoken with his counsellors at the VA Hospital in San Diego (programs that he could only enter as a vet of the USMC), and know that he was adopted.

      When he entered the US Marine Corps, they may well have assigned his birth name. Having known him over two years now, and worked very intensely with him (and Tobin, and Heather) on this new opera, I can assure you that he is for real.

      When you meet him, you will know this in an instant. Alas, what he saw and did is all TOO real -- and thus our opera.