Opera Fayetteville’s new production tells story of America’s longest-held prisoner of war

Opera Fayetteville will present its ninth season featuring Glory Denied March 6-7 at Walton Arts Center.

Based on the true story of Colonel Jim Thompson, Vietnam veteran and America’s longest-held prisoner of war, the chamber opera composed by Tom Cipullo explores the Thompson family’s personal struggles that play out on a national stage – from the jungles of Vietnam to the social upheaval of the 1960s in America. The performance stars up-and-coming operatic talent from around the country and is accompanied by the Opera Fayetteville orchestra, conducted by Cris Frisco.

Glory Denied weaves together past and present to tell a story about memory, trauma, and social change. The cast of four includes two versions of Jim Thompson — to be sung by baritone Ben Edquist and tenor Alexander Scheuermann — as well as younger and older representations of his wife Alyce, to be sung by sopranos Tamara Ryan and Esther Maureen Kelly.

“This is a deeply moving exploration of two very fleshed out characters responding to and being changed by unimaginable suffering, said General Director Tamara Ryan. “The opera’s creative treatment of the passage of time enables communication between past and present selves, making the piece all the more poignant and deeply affecting.”

Frisco said Glory Denied tells an important American story, one that isn’t often told in opera.

“I’m thrilled to have the chance to honor our veterans and have really honest conversations about this difficult period of our history,” said Frisco.

Tickets start at $30, and are on sale now at waltonartscenter.org.