Heart of a Soldier

MUSIC BY CHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS • LIBRETTO BY DONNA Di NOVELLI • BASED ON THE BOOK BY JAMES B. STEWART AND THE LIFE STORIES OF SUSAN RESCORLA, RICK RESCORLA AND DANIEL J. HILL • COMMISSIONED BY SAN FRANCISCO OPERA

WORLD PREMIERE

What makes a hero? The question was never an academic one for Rick Rescorla, a British-born adventurer who fought in Vietnam before settling in New York as head of security for a brokerage firm based in the World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001, his extraordinary courage and calmness in a crisis paid off: Rescorla led all of the 2,700 people under his care to safety—literally singing them down the stairs—before heading back into the burning building for one last check. He never emerged.
 
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks, San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, which tells the dramatic story of Rescorla’s extraordinary life. The Company’s latest commission features a dynamic and soulful score by Christopher Theofanidis, “one of the world’s most sought-after living composers” (Seattle Times). Baritone Thomas Hampson, renowned for his “clarion power and burnished tone” (Los Angeles Times), sings the role of Rick Rescorla in this story of enduring friendship and late-found love. Tenor William Burden is Daniel J. Hill, Rescorla’s best friend and fellow soldier, and soprano Melody Moore portrays Susan, Rescorla’s wife and soul mate.
 
American composer Christopher Theofanidis is best-known for Rainbow Body, one of the most performed orchestral works of the past decade. His dramatic oratorio The Refuge “drew standing ovations and bravos” (The New York Times) at its Houston Grand Opera premiere in 2007.
 
Librettist Donna Di Novelli wrote the lyrics for Rachel Portman’s 2009 musical Little House on the Prairie. Director Francesca Zambello, San Francisco Opera's Artistic Adviser, created the acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess recently presented by the Company, as well as this past summer's critically acclaimed Ring cycle. Conductor Patrick Summers, Principal Guest Conductor for San Francisco Opera, is music director of the Houston Grand Opera; his many San Francisco Opera productions include the world premieres of Dead Man Walking and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Production contains adult language and themes, loud sound effects, gunshots and extensive use of strobe lighting.

Sung in English with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes including one intermission

San Francisco Opera production

Rick Rescorla photo: AP Photo/Peter Arnett; Thomas Hampson in San Francisco Opera production of Macbeth, photo: Terrence McCarthy

All other production photos: Cory Weaver

Audio credits:
Heart of a Soldier Guild Insight Panel, moderated by Kip Cranna; September 6, 2011: James Stewart, author of Heart of a Soldier, the book upon which the opera was based; Francesca Zambello, director; Christopher Theofanidis, composer; Donna DiNovelli, librettist; Patrick Summers, conductor; Thomas Hampson, baritone; Melody Moore, soprano; William Burden, tenor; Susan Rescorla, widow of Rick Rescorla. See Audio tab above for all four parts.
 
Heart of a Soldier workshop, December 2010: The Coffee Duet; Melody Moore as Susan Rescorla; Austin Kness as Rick Rescorla; pianists Bryndon Hassman and Ernest Knell; conducted by Patrick Summers. The situation in the opera: Rick and Susan meet over coffee. Tentatively, at first, they share information about their past lives, back story.


Cast

Rick Rescorla Thomas Hampson
Daniel J. Hill William Burden
Susan Rescorla Melody Moore
Cyril Henry Phipps *
Imam Mohannad Mchallah *
Tom, Ted Michael Sumuel *
Lolita, Bridesmaid Susannah Biller
Pat, Ann Sara Gartland
Omaha, Robert Ta'u Pupu'a *
Dexter, Dex Daniel Snyder *
Joseph, Joe Trevor Scheunemann
Sam, Wesley Wayne Tigges *
Buddy Koa the Golden Retriever *

Production Credits

Composer Christopher Theofanidis *
Librettist Donna Di Novelli *
Conductor Patrick Summers
Director Francesca Zambello
Set Designer Peter Davison
Costume Designer Jess Goldstein *
Lighting Designer Mark McCullough
Chorus Director Ian Robertson
Physical Action Director Rick Sordelet *
Choreographer Lawrence Pech
Director of Photography Steve Condiotti *
Projection Imaging Team Projection Imaging Team

* San Francisco Opera Debut

Synopsis

PROLOGUE
Drawn to a beautiful September morning, a group of office workers bask in the sunshine, unaware of what the future holds. A piece of paper floats down from the sky. In another location, Susan Rescorla also sees the paper. She notices its edges are singed.

ACT I
Cornwall, England, June 1944
Cyril Rescorla, a young boy, rushes into the encampment of American G.I.s in his hometown of Hayle. He idolizes the soldiers and is devastated by the men’s sudden and unexplained departure.

Northern Rhodesia, Bravado Bar, 1962
Dan Hill, a paratrooper and mercenary, enters a quiet makeshift pub. Suddenly Rick is carried into the bar in triumph by his men after having killed a lion that was decimating a village. Rick is smeared with the blood of the lion, having enacted a ritual to honor the power of one’s worthy opponent. Full of bravado, Rick challenges Dan to a wrestling match; Dan accepts. Rick and Dan quickly understand their shared ethos and love of soldiering. Dan has a suggestion: perhaps there is a better testing ground for their skills where they can fight side by side in a place where a war is heating up—Vietnam.

Fort Benning, Georgia, 1965
The two men train their platoons and prepare for their departure to what they hope will be a just war.
Ia Drang River Valley, Vietnam, 1965
Rick leads his troops into the eerie silence of the jungle, teaching them to overcome their fear by singing. Machine gun fire punctuates the air, and the Battle of X-Ray begins. Rick loses his medic and reenacts the blood ritual. In another location, Dan is being overrun by the Viet Cong and the Army is unable to send help. With no authority but his own, Rick gathers his best men for the subversive mission to save his friend. Following the battle, Dan calls Rick a hero for saving him, but Rick replies that all the heroes are dead. A schism threatens to grow between the two friends: Rick’s only focus is his men and bringing them home safely while Dan is strategic, understanding that men die in war.

Dallas, Texas, 1972
At his wedding, Rick urges Dan to revel with the same intensity with which he went into battle. Since Vietnam, the men have had difficulty fitting into civilian life. Dan misses the calm he experienced during the chaos of battle and remembers parachuting into Beirut, with the Muslim calls to prayer from the minarets offering a sense of order. Perhaps Islam offers the structure he seeks. He follows the voice of an Imam and converts to the faith. As the two men accept different paths in life, Dan departs for Afghanistan.

ACT II
World Trade Center and Morristown, New Jersey, 1998–2001
As head of security for a brokerage firm in the World Trade Center, Rick runs evacuation drills. Dan has been strategizing with Rick about building security as the two consider the towers to be vulnerable to attack. Rick is frustrated that his warnings have been ignored.
Meanwhile in a New Jersey suburb, Susan Greer takes her dog on a morning walk. She is startled when a barefoot runner, Rick, passes by. Intrigued by this stranger, she invites him to her home for coffee. Both divorcees, Rick and Susan are instantly attracted to each other, and their mid-life romance soon intensifies.
            On September 11, 2001, Rick and Susan practice a dance lesson before he heads to work. Rick greets his co-workers on this particularly brilliant morning. A loud noise shakes their building. The workers slowly grasp the horror unfolding in the North Tower. They struggle whether to follow Rick’s evacuation instructions or to listen to the Port Authority’s directive to remain at their desks. Rick orders an evacuation through a megaphone. Another loud crash, the building sways and the floor of the South Tower buckles; everyone is plunged into darkness and smoke. Rick instructs the workers to stay calm and leads them down the stairs as they reenact their evacuation drill, singing their training song. On the phone, Susan begs Rick to come home. Dan prepares to join his friend in New York, but not without adding a warning to leave. Rick promises to exit the building after his final sweep. He leads the first responders to search for those who could be trapped. The South Tower collapses.

EPILOGUE
Susan and Dan walk through the debris at Ground Zero, and they recreate the ritual so important to Rick using only what they have—the ashes of the Twin Towers.

My Journey with Heart of a Soldier

James B. Stewart

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist recounts his history with the story of Rick Rescorla, which is the basis for this month’s world premiere opera.

The focus those early days was on the devastating losses at places like Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm located on the floors of One World Trade Center just above where the hijacked jetliner struck. But during my interviews I learned that the largest employer at the World Trade Center was Morgan Stanley, and the firm had suffered only a handful of casualties. This stuck in my mind: how had Morgan Stanley fared so well? Did someone deserve credit for this? In the midst of tragedy and sadness, was this a glimmer of something positive?

I raised this question from time to time, and at a dinner for my birthday on October 3, James Cramer, now host of Mad Money and an old friend, said he’d heard there was indeed such a person, the firm’s head of security. The next week I called Morgan Stanley, and was referred to a press person. Somewhat to my surprise, she seemed cool to my inquiry. She said Morgan Stanley would have no comment and had no interest in participating in any story related to September 11. I got the impression that someone had advised Morgan Stanley that for marketing purposes, it was best for the words “Morgan Stanley” and “September 11” never to appear in the same sentence. But then she added, “His widow might be interested in talking to you.” She gave me Susan Rescorla’s unlisted phone number.

I called Susan, and she agreed to meet me at the Morristown apartment she’d shared with Rick. When I came through the front door I spotted Rick’s large shoes by the door mat. Their beloved dog Buddy, who Susan had been walking when she met Rick, came up to me wagging his tail. Susan had touched nothing in the apartment since Rick’s death. We sat down and I took out my notebook. Susan started talking, but her voice soon faltered, and within moments we were both grasping for tissues as the tears flowed. Hours later, on the train back to Manhattan, I looked at my notes. I’d written only a few words.

That was the first of many interviews with Susan, who gradually shared more and more of her own memories, photos, and Rick’s letters and diaries. She introduced me to Dan Hill, Rick’s lifelong friend, who lived in Florida, and we spoke on the phone. The result was a New Yorker article, “The Real Heroes Are Dead,” which appeared in February 2002. It focused on Rick and Susan’s extraordinary love affair and Rick’s remarkable life.

Some weeks later, Dan Hill called to say he would be in New York and suggested we meet. I readily agreed, although I don’t often meet with sources after a story is finished. Dan and I had dinner at keen’s Chop House, where, over Scotch and a steak, Dan dropped whatever reserve I’d sensed on the phone and spoke expansively about his love for Rick and the amazing exploits they’d shared. Dan is a natural narrator, and I was spellbound by his tales. When I left him on the sidewalk I called Alice Mayhew, my editor at Simon & Schuster, and said that I had to expand the story into a book.

In March 2002, no publisher was looking for more books on the subject of the 2001 terrorist attacks, too many of which were already in the publishing pipeline. I was already under contract for another book. I offered to write it with no advance. I’ll always be grateful that Alice allowed me to pursue my growing obsession with the story. But I’m not sure anything could have stopped me.

I set to work, visiting Dan and his wife at their home in Florida, where Dan showed me the lion’s tooth that Rick had given him to protect him in Afghanistan, but that Rick had been without on Sept. 11. One afternoon in Morristown Susan shared with me the notes that Rick had been scribbling during the nights he couldn’t sleep in the weeks leading up to September 11. On one page he’d written the title of the autobiography he’d planned to write: Heart of a Soldier.

One hot summer afternoon I was working on the manuscript when I realized that Dan and Rick had last seen each other at Ft. Benning, when Rick was being inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. I interrupted my writing to call Dan to ask about the details of their final parting. Dan froze when I asked the question. Then he said he’d rather not say. I gently pressed him, sensing this was significant, and finally he said that Rick had grabbed him by the ears, pulled him close, and kissed him on the forehead. “Don’t die before we see each other again, Danny,” Rick had said. Given the hyper masculine, stoic cult of the Army that Dan and Rick had embodied, this was an extraordinarily difficult admission. Dan had never shed a tear in the hours we’d spent talking about Rick. But now I could hear Dan sobbing, and I, too, started to cry.

I could also sense there was something Susan was holding back when she described her feelings about losing Rick. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Rick was hailed as a hero, and Susan was repeatedly called upon to stand in for him and to express her gratitude. But there was something else Susan finally told me she felt and couldn’t express: her anger that Rick had chosen duty over his love for her. Rick had been out of the tower. He didn’t have to go back. He’d left her behind to face life without him. The moment she told me this I finally understood. Of course she felt this way. Rick’s choice of duty over love was the defining, heart-wrenching climax of the story.

It never occurred to me that Heart of a Soldier might be an opera until Francesca Zambello suggested the possibility. I did feel that the story had timeless, even epic qualities. Susan’s plight and her feelings reminded me of Dido in Les Troyens, whose beloved Aeneas left her behind to fulfill his destiny to found Rome. I had never had the opportunity to write a story against the backdrop of such momentous events; indeed, I hoped I never would again. But I tried not to think of such weighty themes. I thought the power of the story was best revealed through the simplest rendering of the facts.

I cried many times while writing Heart of a Soldier, and I cried in December 2010, the first time I heard Donna Di Novelli’s libretto set to Chris Theofanidis’s music. These were never tears of sadness. Rather, they were tears that something so beautiful and inspirational could have emerged from so devastating a tragedy.

Like most New Yorkers, I was at home in a state of stunned inactivity the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001 as the magnitude of the morning’s devastating attack sank in. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, called and asked if I might go to Wall Street and contribute something to that week’s issue. I was grateful to be reminded that I was a journalist, this was the biggest news of my lifetime, and maybe I had a small role to play.

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Making an Opera: Bringing Heart of a Soldier to the Stage

Robert Wilder Blue

An interview with composer Christopher Theofanidis and librettist Donna Di Novelli

It feels as though there is a higher calling for this project. The substance of the story is so beautiful. The people, whose lives are the starting point, are so admirable. Everyone involved in the project has been very focused. We really want to get the story right.—Christopher Theofanidis
 
Members of the creative and stage management teams for Heart of a Soldier in rehearsal
(photo by Kristen Loken)
 
In 2003, director Francesca Zambello gave David Gockley a copy of James B. Stewart’s book, Heart of a Soldier, the story of Rick Rescorla, his best friend Dan Hill, and his wife Susan Rescorla that ends with the attacks on the World trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. Gockley, general director of Houston Grand Opera at the time, felt immediately that it contained the elements of an opera. Known for his commitment to new works, Gockley stated, “Among the many challenges an opera company faces, the most daunting is to introduce a brand-new work. [Yet,] we have a responsibility to refresh the repertory. Heart of a Soldier had the bones of an opera. it was a story that attracted music, that could be musically mythologized.” The project was launched with composer Christopher Theofanidis, librettist Donna Di Novelli, conductor Patrick Summers, and Zambello. When Gockley became general director of San Francisco Opera in 2006, he brought the project with him.
 
It’s not far into Stewart’s book that it becomes obvious what Gockley and Zambello saw in the story. The themes of the greatest operas—honor, duty, love, death—are present from the beginning. The story’s resemblance to Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and Verdi’s Don Carlo is striking. Yet it is really a tale of three complex people and their relationships: the life-long friendship of two warriors, and the loved shared by a couple who found each other late in life. Dan and Rick’s story begins in Africa, where they met as hired soldiers; it continues to Vietnam, where they fought for the American forces; it ends in New York where, as head of security for Morgan Stanley at two World trade Center, Rick led the company’s 2,700 employees to safety, literally singing them down forty flights of stairs. He returned to the building to see if he could assist others, but within moments it collapsed, and Rick was never seen again.
 
Christopher Theofanidis (right) and members of the Company's
music staff in rehearsal (photo by Kristen Loken)
 
Recently, a day after the first complete run-through of the opera, Theofanidis and Di Novelli talked about transforming the story into an opera. They were both pleased by the progress of the rehearsals and overwhelmed by hearing the entire piece for the first time. “As much as you know what is coming at the end, it takes your breath away,” says Di Novelli. “The end is devastating. We said at the beginning, we were not going to write a ‘9/11’ opera. We wanted to be true to who rick was throughout his life. But, that was where his life ended. From the beginning, speaking with Francesca, we all agreed we would never show any actual pictures of the attacks; it would all be stylized and abstract. We were not going to exploit the images that everyone has seen so many times.”
 
“Opera is the biggest commitment a composer can make,” says Theofanidis. “The process of creating an opera goes on for years, so you really have to care about the subject. As an artist, I could only commit to writing an opera about something that was important to me philosophically, that I cared about in my deepest core. The friendship of these two characters resonated with me; it reminded me of my closest friend growing up. Rick and Dan were full of bravado, but at their core were very modest, decent human beings. The way they lived their lives made me want to invest my energy into this story. I felt like I could bring something personally to it, in terms of the musical representation of the story.
 
“At first,” Theofanidis continues, “it was a matter of defining priorities in terms of presentation. For our purposes, the story was complicated with the different time periods and the number of locales. How do you manage all that, and stay focused on developing the characters? What do you want to show the audience? What needs to be seen and heard?”
 
“Donna and I clicked from the beginning,” says Theofanidis. “It’s scary to open it up to another person, but it’s an important part of a process you have to grow into. I think we were both surprised that by trusting each other, as well as the other collaborators, we were able to come up with something that we couldn’t have done on our own. The ideal collaboration is one that allows you to keep your integrity and uniqueness, but which takes you individually somewhere you couldn’t get alone. David and his staff, Francesca, and Patrick were all part of the development. Then tom [Hampson] came in, and he had many great ideas. With all these strong personalities, you worry about it getting diluted by too much input. But, I really feel that the best ideas were filtered out. Tom, Bill [Burden], and Melody [Moore] were so invested in these people’s lives, writing and talking to them, and bringing a level of detail and realism to the story that really has made a difference. Patrick and Francesca are the ideal people to have involved also. They have done many new works and are really used to this process.”
 
WIlliam Burden (Dan Hill) and Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla)
(photo by Cory Weaver)

“When you read Jim’s book,” says Di Novelli, “you realize that what’s missing is the music. Music was part of Rick’s tradition and heritage. He was sustained by music throughout his life. Rick is such a complex character. He was a hard drinker. He married the wrong woman the first time. He and Dan had this incredible bond, and then the surprise is that there was this sort of transfer of his heart to Susan. She went through her own journey. She became more than she was before she met Rick.

“This has been a learning experience for me from the beginning, a discovery process,” explains Di Novelli. “I did a lot of reading about soldiers. I wanted to know what makes a soldier. Who would want to be a soldier? Where does the honor lie? Going back in time, reading about chivalry, I thought about this pair. What fascinates us about the warrior, and not only about the warrior, but about two warriors and the bond they share? I thought about America, which is so much about the lone hero. What is interesting about Rick’s story is that he wasn’t the lone warrior. For him, what mattered was the ‘sweaty guy to your left.’

“My first job as a librettist was to inspire Chris. At one point, we wondered how to deal with the language—what should be spoken and what should be sung. The aria and choral numbers were determined by the demands and desires of the music—how to expand a given dramatic moment musically. At the same time, we wanted to use as much dialogue as we could from Jim’s book, because of how strongly it defined the characters. Additionally, we were able to interview Dan and Susan for material that worked its way into the opera. It’s difficult to discuss how we transformed and created dramatic moments in the opera, but one example is rick’s second act aria, ‘Marathon.’ We knew from the book that when rick said goodbye to Dan the last time they saw each other (‘Don’t go dying on me’), it was his final farewell. We wanted to give more weight to this moment. Throughout the piece we had been using the theme that both men believed soldiers were resurrected throughout history. So, using the type of literate language rick favored, I ‘created’ this aria in collaboration with Chris.”
 
Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla)
and Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla)
(photo by Cory Weaver)

“What music does very well is create a feeling around something,” says Theofanidis. “With melody and harmony, you can take what is intangible about a person or an event, what it might take a bunch of adjectives to describe, and capture it with music. “Personally, I try not to think about musical style,” says Theofanidis. “The more I think about it, the more it makes me become too aware of what I’m doing, to the detriment of project. Over the past twenty years, there’s been a major shift in thinking about musical style or language. When I was in school, if you wrote anything that sounded like film music or smacked of popular song or musical theater, it was really looked down on. It was not thought to be academic, so it was not worthwhile studying musicologically or theoretically. For that reason, many composers were left outside of the circle. Of course, you have people like Bernstein and Gershwin who were admired, however even they dealt with this issue, this separation of serious music versus popular entertainment. But, things have been changing for the better, I think. When you’re writing for the stage, either things work or they don’t. Yes, there can be good tunes you can hum, but they do not sustain a production. There has to be a dramatic art, building blocks of good musical theater. There has to be an investment in the story and character development. It’s about trying to make something work with the different tools I have, not about defining a specific style for myself. I think there is less hostility now toward composers who move fluidly between styles.

“In this economic climate,” concludes Theofanidis, “it is remarkable to be able to do something on this scale. For David, doing new operas is a priority, for which we are grateful. Even though this is about a recent event in our history, and something that is still vivid in peoples’ memories, we approached it with the attitude that we were telling a timeless story.”

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Director's Note: Heart of a Story

Francesca Zambello

Francesca Zambello discusses the epic themes in Heart of a Soldier

Love. Death. Heroism. Honor. 

These are timeless and universal themes that are the foundation for any worthwhile story. So many of the great works of classical music that we cherish—the historical operas of Verdi and Wagner’s Ring cycle, the symphonies of Shosakovitch and Beethoven—sustain themselves on these themes, and through them we come to a deeper understanding of our human condition.

When I first read my friend James Stewart’s powerful book Heart of a Soldier, I knew it had to be an opera. It is a vast panorama exploring courage, friendship, and unconventional love. I found it all the more gripping in that it is based on truth and not on a novel or a film. These great and vast themes are told through three very specific, personal characters on their profoundly transformative paths.

I believe that you cannot make theater today without a love story; it always has to be your engine. And Heart of a Soldier has not one but two. The first is the strong bond between Rick Rescorla and Dan Hill. These two soldiers connected over shared beliefs in duty, loyalty, and integrity—like something out of Homer or Euripides. Despite taking different paths, what these lifelong friends do together and what they do for each other is extremely compelling.

The other love story is one about grown-ups. Not a traditional romance of twenty-somethings, but two people in their fifties who fall deeply in love and happily discover an unexpected chapter in their lives. Rick and Susan’s bond is a story that is not often told—certainly not in opera—and brings an element of freshness and surprise to this realistic situation of late-found love.

In addition to love, a powerful story requires an antagonist. And in this case, it’s history. The Invasion of Normandy, Beirut, Vietnam, Afghanistan, September 11—these serve as the lens through which we see Rick, Dan, and Susan struggle and ultimately transform. So this is not Vietnam opera or a 9/11 opera; this is an opera about love, the nature of heroism, and how we remember those we’ve lost. This is an opera about the heart of a soldier.

I am eternally grateful to all of my collaborators who have brought this project to life, and to our audiences we share it with. On behalf of everyone associated with Heart of a Soldier, we also want to thank the men and women who risk their lives each and every day to ensure our safety and freedom. Thank you.

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“The great baritone Thomas Hampson won our hearts!”

"The great baritone Thomas Hampson, a larger-than-life Rick Rescorla, won our hearts...and sang magnificently. The standing ovation was the kind every composer and every opera company dreams of for a premiere."

"A convincing and engaging production by Francesca Zambello and a committed performance conducted by Patrick Summers.”


  –Los Angeles Times
"A convincing and engaging production by Francesca Zambello.”

  –Los Angeles Times
"The cast was first-rate throughout!”

"The cast was first-rate throughout—particularly Hampson, whose raffish charm and resplendent tonal gifts have rarely been put to such apt use. In his portrayal, you could hear and see a man able to lead soldiers into battle or brokers into a smoke-filled stairwell.”

“The gloriously alert and bright-toned soprano Melody Moore" and tenor William Burden, who sang "with soaring, silvery charisma," star as Rick's widow Susan and best friend Dan Hill.


  –San Francisco Chronicle
“Among the best contemporary operas!”

“The work is among the best contemporary operas. Christopher Theofanidis' music is tonal and accessible, and has the harmonic beauty of a 1940s soundtrack by Erich Korngold. Donna Di Novelli's libretto telling the true story of 9/11 hero Rick Rescorla is excellent!"

“Among outstanding performances: Nadine Sierra in two roles, Henry Phipps as Rescorla at age 10, and Mohannad Mchallah as a muezzin who leads calls to prayer from a minaret.”


  –San Francisco Examiner
“Francesca Zambello's stage direction and Peter J. Davison's sets were outstanding.”

  –San Francisco Examiner
“The Orchestra played the rich score of large gestures with certainty” under Maestro Patrick Summers.

  –San Francisco Examiner
“A noble, moving and ultimately transcendent work.”

Theofanidis shows impressive facility and comfort in the form. As with his orchestral works, his music is unapologetically tonal and melodic, spiced with astringency where appropriate and smartly scored. There are rhythmic martial military choruses, a plaintive folk-like Cornish theme, some aggressively thunderous music (with ordinance sound effects) for the Vietnam battle scenes and two massive fortissimo blasts when the towers are hit. Also striking are the eerie, exotic percussion writing for the Vietnam scenes and the haunting Middle-Eastern muezzin call to prayer painting Hill’s conversion to Islam.”

“The final scene is a theatrical master stroke: as Dan and Susan wash their hands in the dust of the fallen towers in a (deftly foreshadowed) symbolic act of catharsis.”


  –The Classical Review

Performances

  • Sat 09/10/11 8:00pm

  • Tue 09/13/11 7:30pm *

  • Sun 09/18/11 2:00pm *

  • Wed 09/21/11 7:30pm *

  • Sat 09/24/11 2:00pm

  • Tue 09/27/11 8:00pm

  • Fri 09/30/11 8:00pm

*OperaVision, HD video projection screens featured in the Balcony level for this performance, is made possible by the Koret-Taube Media Suite.

Sponsors


The world premiere of Heart of a Soldier is made possible, in part, by Company Sponsors John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn. Additional support provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Cast, program, prices and schedule are subject to change.