Theofanidis's Heart of a Soldier

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rick Rescorla (Thomas Hampson, aloft) in 'Heart of a Soldier' Rick Rescorla (Thomas Hampson, aloft) in 'Heart of a Soldier' (Cory Weaver, San Francisco Opera)

San Francisco Opera commissioned New York composer Christopher Theofanidis to write an opera based on the true story of Rick Rescorla, a former soldier who gave up his life saving thousands in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “When somebody says we want your first full-scale opera to take place in Vietnam and the World Trade Center you get a little concerned about how to handle that task,” Theofanidis said at a press launch for the production.

With librettist Donna Di Novelli, Theofanidis decided to keep the opera very character-focused. “All three of these people have profoundly strong characters,” he noted. “You have to do it with a light touch. You have to know when to be light about it and when to show the emotional intensity that’s there. Throughout the opera there’s a Rossini-esque quality to things that are quite heavy.”

Theofanidis is known for writing music out of fairly familiar harmonic and rhythmic building blocks, yet making it sound bracing and fresh. This premiere production, recorded last year, stars baritone Thomas Hampson, soprano Melody Moore and tenor William Burden.

Heart of a Soldier (World Premiere)


LIBRETTO:   Donna Di Novelli
MUSIC:   Christopher Theofanidis


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


CONDUCTOR:  Patrick Summers
STAGE DIRECTOR:  Francesca Zambello


APPROX. LENGTH: 2 hours 25 minutes

Comments [5]

Daniel Caplivski from New York

Incredibly moving. Rest in peace Joshua Gibson, world trade center hero. He was a doctor who cared for first responders. "Heart of a Soldier" brought his spirit back to me.

Sep. 15 2012 03:00 PM
Bob Flax from Richmond, Va

Excellent. i just heard it. Pertinent and heartfelt topic. i hope to see it live soon.

Sep. 15 2012 02:58 PM
Helen Lauer from Accra, Ghana

I'm sorry, but if the topic were not the sacred cow of 9/11 or points related, then how is this differentiated from the prototype of 'kitsch' on any definition? It's maudlin, it's embarassing; and I tuned in wanting to like it.
It's ok when they stop singing, but indiscernible from anything else composed in the 20th century.
Maybe this is from being born in Huntington Hospital?

Sep. 15 2012 02:51 PM
rae barlo from nyc

Listening to "Heart of a Soldier." Very exciting music. We should hear it here in NYC

Sep. 15 2012 02:09 PM
TJ Harvey from Huntington, NY

OMG — time to turn the radio off for the afternoon.

Sep. 15 2012 01:15 PM

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