Opera in Two Acts
Music by Tom Cipullo
Libretto by Tom Cipullo
Based on the book by Tom Philpott
Performed in English with English subtitles
Premiered at Brooklyn College Opera Theater on May 5, 2007
August 16, 17, 23 & 24 at 8:00pm
Glory Denied has four singing roles. Jim and Alyce Thompson are each played by two singers. Thus, young Alyce presents the character as Jim remembers her from letters written long ago. Older Alyce is the person she has become since his capture. Likewise, the older Jim reflects back on his imprisonment while the younger represents his character during the ordeal. On occasion, the singers may assume the voices of other figures as well (i.e., Pentagon spokesman, Army General, Vietnamese guard, etc.)
Act I – In Captivity
Colonel Floyd James Thompson (Jim), America’s longest-held prisoner of war, looks back on his years as a captive. He sees himself as a young man and recalls episodes from his nine-year ordeal; escape attempts, torture, the overwhelming loneliness of four years in solitary confinement, being fired to sign a propaganda statement. Through it all, he finds the strength to survive in memories of his wife and family. He recalls every letter his beloved Alyce sent to him before his capture.
As Thompson things on his idealized wife, Alyce receives the news that his surveillance plan has been shot down. Filled with fear and bitterness, she soon begins a relationship with another man (Harold), eventually moving in with him and telling the children that their father has died. Alyce denies permission for Jim’s name to be released to the public, not even for one of the P.O.W. bracelets that were common at the time. She consults a lawyer in an effort to have him declared legally dead.
As the act nears its conclusion, Thompson finds comfort in the 23rd Psalm as themes from the opera swirl around him. On his last word, “forever,” he is freed from prison, and a reunion with Alyce, inevitable and tragic, awaits.
Act II – Welcome Home
The P.O.W.s are released and Jim returns home. The Pentagon announces another man, a Navy pilot, as the longest-held prisoner. Excerpts from the Paris Peace Accords interrupt the pre-war memories of Jim and Alyce. Jim reads a letter of welcome from President Nixon, the text nothing ominously that “Some things about America may appear to have changed since your departure.” Alyce meets Jim and confesses. She offers to disappear if that is what he wants, but only after he hears her out. Jim decides to attempt a reconciliation. He notes how the nation has become different during his ordeal, at first mentioning improvements in material items and civil rights, but inevitably concluding with disdain for the new permissiveness and for his wife’s infidelity. Soon, the couple begins to fight, and Jim complains, “You’re not the Alyce I left.” For her part, Alyce asserts her independence, refusing to be the docile obeying wife. She tells of what her life was like during his absence, of the callous behavior of neighbors and family, of late-night crank calls from malicious strangers, of her fear and loneliness. Jim visits the church where he and Alyce were married. He speaks to the congregation hopefully, ignoring the fact that his dream of home and family has been shattered.
Produced by permission of ECS Publishing Group, St. Louis, MO
Sole Agent for E.C. Schirmer Music Company, Publisher and Copyright Owner
|Scenic Designer||Rodger Speidel|
|Costume Designer||Teresa Doggett|
|Lighting Designer||Joe Clapper|
|Technical Director||Theatre Marine Productions|