Performance Dates

Friday, February 12, 2021 @ 8:00 PM – Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
Saturday, February 13, 2021 @ 8:00 PM – Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
Sunday, February 14, 2021 @ 4:00 PM – Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts

In English with English titles

About the Opera

The Falling and The Rising
by Zach Redler
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

“A soldier’s odyssey”
After sending a video message home on the eve of her daughter’s 13th birthday, a soldier, posted in conflict overseas, is severely wounded by a roadside bomb and doctors place her in an induced coma to save her life. In this quasi-dream state, she encounters other soldiers, all working through their own pain and challenges. Together they move toward clarity, consciousness, and communal hope inside a strange and ever-shifting universe. With each encounter she is reminded of the strength and resilience inherent in every soldier, the qualities she will need to rise up again and return home to her daughter. This operatic soldier’s odyssey (created directly from interviews with returning Soldiers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, The Old Guard at Fort Myer, and Fort Meade, Maryland) honors the indomitable spirit of our military veterans and sheds light on the inspirational power of their often-overlooked stories. A story of family, service, and sacrifice inside a period of great uncertainty..

The Falling and The Rising in review

“The Falling and the Rising is a sublime opera that distills the complexity of our wars into vivid portraits of the women and men who continue to fight them. It is a beautiful work, deep but not heavy, a one-act that packs in a lot. ”  – Memphis Flyer

“Composer Zach Redler and librettist Jerre Dye have created an exploration of feelings, an opera that sits easily in the realm of contemporary, lyric theater, that land of Sondheim and Guettel, of Menotti and Mazzoli. If opera is thought to be a grand thing, with love and death as the chief players, this piece absolutely qualifies. If contemporary musical theater crystalizes stories in a more intimate way for the palate of a larger constituency, this piece delivers that immediacy.” – – Newcity Stage

“There are plenty of opportunities for the five voices to soar, Puccini-like, and this mix provides well-crafted musical comfort food…Redler also has a knack for ear-catching orchestral details: a bright Wagnerian horn fanfare, a burble of marimba and, in the Colonel’s lament, a sudden hint of Renaissance music as everyone drops out except motionless, vibratoless strings. – Seattle Times

“Go hear this piece to experience the art with which it is created and produced. More importantly, go experience this piece in celebration of the brave humans who fight for those of us who watch the conflicts from the safety of our living rooms.” – Newcity Stage

History of the Opera

The mission of The U.S. Army Field Band is to serve and inspire the American people by telling the Army story and honoring our Soldiers and Veterans at home and abroad. In 2015, Staff Sergeant Benjamin Hilgert of the Soldiers’ Chorus conceived of a way to carry out that mission more effectively than ever: an opera based on the true stories of active duty Soldiers.

SSG Hilgert took his idea for a “Soldier’s Opera” to the Army Field Band’s commander, Colonel Jim Keene, who saw the potential and invited him to submit a proposal. When the project was later green-lit, the search began for collaborators who would bring the opera to life. SSG Hilgert found his collaborators in librettist Jerre Dye and composer Zach Redler.

The Falling and The Rising is based on a series of interviews with wounded warriors, active duty service members, and veterans. LEARN MORE



About the Composer & Librettist

Zach Redler is an award-winning music theater composer whose work has been performed in concert halls, opera houses and theaters around the world.  Ben Brantley of the New York Times said, Zach’s music “transcends the expected and achieves a haunting originality…the music itself becomes a character that both connects and divides the others.” For his work in musical theater with lyricist/bookwriter Sara Cooper (The Memory ShowLoving LeoWindows,Male Identity), the American Theatre Wing awarded them the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant. Zach and librettist Mark Campbell’s opera A Song for Susan Smith had has featured workshops at the Virginia Arts Festival, Fort Worth Opera, and CU Boulder. Washington National Opera premiered his chamber opera ADAM (libretto by J Douglas Carlson) as part of their American Opera Initiative at the Kennedy Center in January 2017. Movin’ Up In The World (libretto by Jerre Dye), commissioned by Opera Memphis in 2014, has received many reprised productions by the company and others around the country. Most recently, Zach has had the privilege to work with Jerre on The Falling and The Rising, a collaboration between the US Army Band and Soldiers Chorus, Walter Reed Hospital; co-commissioned by Opera Memphis, Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, Arizona Opera, TCU, and Seagle Music Colony. The Falling and The Rising premiered at TCU in April 2018 and has productions scheduled throughout the 2020/21 seasons. He is a member of ASCAP, Local 802 and adjunct faculty at NYU.

Jerre Dye on The Falling and The Rising: “Opera right now is at a huge turning point,” said Dye. “Opera, in America at least, is trying to figure out what it wants to be, and what it needs to become, and what it needs to do…The mission of this piece is to connect civilians to Soldiers using art. All these opera companies are saying, ‘yes, this is exactly what we’ve been looking for. This is what we need, this is exactly what we want to do.’ That is incredibly exciting.” 

Jerre Dye is a Chicago-based opera librettist, playwright and theatre artist. He is the recipient of the Award for Dramatic Literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Opera commissions include: TAKING UP SERPENTS for Washington National Opera with composer Kamala Sankaram, an upcoming commission for Opera Philadelphia with composer Jennifer Higdon, CHAUTAUQUA STORIES for Chautauqua Opera, OPERA 901 and A PRETTY LITTLE ROOM for Opera Memphis with composer Robert Patterson, THE TRANSFORMATION OF JANE DOE for Chicago Opera Theatre with composer Stacy Garrop, PARKSVILLE, a filmed, episodic, virtual reality opera for Opera On Tap/New York with composer Kamala Sankaram and GHOSTS OF CROSSTOWN, a opera cycle in collaboration with Opera Memphis: MOVIN’ UP IN THE WORLD with composer Zachary Redler, ABANDONED with composer Kamran Ince (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in S.F. as part of the New Works Sampler 2014), IVONNE with composer Nathaniel Stookey (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in D.C. as part of the New Works Sampler 2015), and MITCH AND THE MOON with composer Jack Perla.

His play, CICADA, had a Chicago premiere in 2014 with Route 66 Theatre Company (Jeff nominated). His play DISTANCE, premiered in 2016 with Strawdog Theatre Company (Jeff nominated). Other works for the stage include: SHORT/STORIES, THREADS, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HANSEL AND GRETEL, WILD SWANS, LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE and an adaptation of Stravinsky’s A SOLDIER’S TALE with Iris Orchestra. 


The Cast


Production Team



A Soldier, posted in a conflict overseas, is wounded by improvised explosive device shortly after a video chat with her daughter. Military doctors induce a coma to save her life. In this quasi-dream state, the Soldier envisions another combat veteran during a mandatory therapy session. The Soldier hears the Doctor diagnose her with a traumatic brain injury, but in her comatose state she cannot respond. Later, imagining a conversation with an Army Ranger, she is reminded of the strength and resilience inherent in every Soldier. She then has a vision of a Colonel mourning the loss of his wife; soon after, she meets and takes strength from a Veteran who demonstrates his own recovery to his family’s congregation. Surrounded by her company near and far, this Soldier finds the strength she needs to go on, to return to her fellow Soldiers and her young daughter. 

Free Pre-Opera Talks

Plan to join us one hour before each performance of The Falling and The Rising  to learn the fascinating history and insights into this poignant and compelling opera.

Friday, Feb 12 at 7:00 pm in the Sidney Laurence Theatre
Saturday, Feb 13 at 7:00 PM in the Sidney Laurence Theatre
Sunday, Feb 14 at 3:00 pm in the Sidney Laurence Theatre