Tom Cipullo • February 23, 26, March 1, 3, 2019
Based on a book by Tom Philpott, Glory Denied tells the true story of Colonel Jim Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war. The opera deals not only with Thompson’s suffering in the jungle of southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, but also the tragic aftermath that followed his liberation.
Colonel Thompson endured his brutal captivity by doggedly clinging to memories of his loving wife Alyce and their children. Alyce, however, believed Jim was dead. She and her children moved to Massachusetts with another man, leading to a painful reunion after Jim’s release.
Glory Denied is, above all, the story of an American family during one our nation’s most turbulent eras. In its review of Mr. Philpott’s book, The New York Times stated:
Indeed it is not too much to say that Glory Denied and Colonel Thompson’s mixed feelings about it encapsulate something of the moral essence of the Vietnam War and the imperishable bitterness of its legacy.
Glory Denied will star Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists, and be performed in the intimate environs of Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. Limited capacity- order now!
The Artistic Team
Composer - Tom Cipullo
Conductor - James Lesniak
Stage Director - *Matthew Haney
Set Designer - Jiahui Shi
Costume Designer - Jason Bray
Lighting Designer - Todd Nonn
Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Prop Master - Johnmichael Bohach
Sets & Costumes created by Pittsburgh Opera
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Act I. Captain Thompson (Jim), America’s longest-held prisoner of war, recalls episodes of his nine-year ordeal which include escape attempts, torture, the overwhelming loneliness of five years in solitary confinement, and being forced to sign a propaganda statement. He finds the strength to survive in memories of his family, letters from his wife Alyce about their home and children, and thoughts of his elaborate plans to build his dream house.
Pregnant with their fourth child and only son, Alyce receives the news that Jim’s plane has been shot down. Denied any reliable information about his status or whereabouts, she soon begins a relationship with another man (Harold), eventually moving with him to Massachusetts and telling her children that their father is dead. Alyce refuses to have Jim’s name released to the public as Missing in Action, or inscribed on a P.O.W. bracelet, a popular solidarity symbol at the time, and consults a lawyer in an effort to have her husband legally declared dead. Thompson, in captivity, finds comfort in the 23rd Psalm.
Act II. A number of American P.O.W.s are released and Jim returns home, but the Pentagon honors another man, Everett Alvarez, as the longest-held prisoner. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, Jim receives a letter welcoming him back from President Richard Nixon, and suggesting that “some things about America may appear to have changed” since his departure. Alyce greets Jim’s homecoming and confesses her new relationship. She offers to go away if that is what he prefers, but Jim wants to reconcile. He notes how life has changed during his nine year captivity and soon the couple begins to fight with Jim complaining that Alyce is not the wife he left behind. Alyce asserts her independence and describes what her life has been like during his absence. Jim, considered a local hero, is asked to give a sermon at the church where he and Alyce were married, and recalls his idealized family life. But Alyce has moved on.
The years pass and Jim, having suffered a stroke, lives alone, estranged from his family, struggling with all that has occurred.
-From Anchorage Opera
- Run time: 1 hour and 18 minutes
- Understand Every Word: Glory Denied is sung in English, and has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Audio Description available at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
- Braille Programs available at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
- Large-Print Programs available at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Glory Denied featuring excerpts from Fort Worth Opera’s 2013 production with Tyson Deaton conducting members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- "My Darling Jim"- sung by Sydney Mancasola as Younger Alyce
- “After You Hear Me Out”- sung by Caroline Worra as Older Alyce
- “Teflon cookware”- sung by Michael Mayes as Older Jim