THE LONG walk
by Jeremy Howard Beck
& Stephanie Fleischmann • Jan. 20, 23, 26 & 28, 2018
Pittsburgh Opera brings a gripping, contemporary American opera to the CAPA Theater in Jeremy Howard Beck’s The Long Walk. With a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, The Long Walk is based on the book The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows by Brian Castner.
The opera is a deeply personal exploration of a soldier’s return from Iraq where he served as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and his battle with what he calls “the Crazy” as he tries to reintegrate into his family life.
‘The Long Walk’ is the term for when a bomb disposal expert puts on their bomb suit and walks, alone, towards an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which they must disarm. As Castner explains in an interview, “It is an extremely lonely experience; no one can help you.” However, ‘the long walk’ also refers to the struggle to re-integrate back into your own life upon returning to the United States, a struggle which Castner shares with brutal honesty.
For additional background, view American Lyric Theater’s YouTube video featuring interviews with Beck, Fleischmann, and Castner.
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater in 2012, the opera was developed under the auspices of the Composer Librettist Development Program, and premiered at Opera Saratoga in 2015. The Times Union called it “a daring operatic depiction of war’s aftermath”; another reviewer said it “hits on all that makes us human”.
*Benjamin Taylor: Brian
*Leah de Gruyl: Jessie
Martin Bakari: Castleman
*Eric Ferring: Ricky
*Shannon Jennings: Aunt Sarah/Shrink/Iraqi
*Ashley Fabian: Yogini/Iraqi
Thomas Shivone: Jeff
+Adrianna Cleveland: Perneatha
+Simon Nigam: Virgil
+Harrison Salvi: Martin
+River Beckas: Samuel
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Stage Director - Frances Rabalais*
Set Designer - Kathryn Fetrow
Costume Coordinator - Jason Bray
Lighting Designer - Tlàloc Lopez-Watermann
Wig Master - Nicole Pagano
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Stage Manager - Adrienne Wells
Asst Lighting Designer/Master Electrician - Todd Nonn
Guest Pianist - Djordje Nesic
Director of Musical Studies - Mark Trawka
Associate Coach Pianist - James Lesniak
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
Opera Wire: Pittsburgh Opera announces The Long Walk
Broadway World: Pittsburgh Opera presents The Long Walk
The Almanac: Mt. Lebanon library program previews Pittsburgh Opera production
The Almanac: What's Happening the Week of Dec 27
Pittsburgh Owl Scribe Blog: Pittsburgh Opera to Stage The Long Walk
The Almanac: What's Happening Week of January 10th
Tribe Live: Event Planner January 12-24
The Opera Evangelist: The Long Walk brings the horrors of the Iraq war to the stage
Trib Live: Event Planner January 18-31
KDKA-AM radio interview: Larry Richert and John Shumway interview Brian Castner and Ben Taylor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Preview: Opera The Long Walk shines a spotlight on PTSD
City Paper: “War and its aftermath” in Pittsburgh Opera’s A Long Walk
Trib Live: Pittsburgh Opera tackles war and its aftermath
WQED-FM "Voice of the Arts" podcast interviews:
- Frances Rabalais, Stage Director
- Glenn Lewis, Conductor
- Leah de Gruyl, "Jessie Castner"
- Ben Taylor, "Brian Castner"
Pittsburgh in the Round: Pittsburgh Opera’s Benjamin Taylor Takes “The Long Walk”
CBS Pittsburgh - KDKA TV: Pittsburgh Today Live interview with Heather Abraham
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh Opera's 'The Long Walk' is a smart, chaotic, explosive success
LOCAL Pittsburgh: The Long Walk: Pittsburgh Opera Brings the Real-Life Story of an Iraq Veteran to The Stage
The Almanac: What's Happening Week of January 24
Pittsburgh in the Round: The Long Walk
LOCAL Pittsburgh: The Man Behind ‘The Long Walk’: An Interview with Author Brian Castner
Seen and Heard International: The Long Walk – A Soldier Comes Home
Discover the Burgh: Attending a Modern Opera at CAPA Theater by the Pittsburgh Opera
Jessie Castner recalls her grandmother's warning that her husband Brian "won't come home" from his deployment as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in the Iraq war, because "if the war doesn't kill him, it'll take him here - the war will kill him at home, with you."
Struggling to adjust to his home-life in Buffalo after a traumatic deployment to Iraq, Brian prepares to arm his minivan with a gun in order to keep his children safe on the drive to school.
Perneatha mourns the loss of her husband, EOD Officer Captain Kermit Evans, at his funeral.
Jessie tells Brian that she can't follow him to the dark place he's been in since his return from his latest deployment to Iraq.
Brian's sons sing that he came home from the war "different", and that he "felt like a stranger, not like a dad."
Brian starts to have a panic attack in an airport, and calls his wife Jessie to help talk him down.
Brian has a flashback to a Long Walk in Iraq when his son Martin puts on his hockey goalie equipment.
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
Here are some details and resources to help. Also visit our Opera FAQs or our Accessibility page.
- Run time: 2 hours 11 minutes, with one intermission
- Understand Every Word: Sung in English with English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- This opera includes a few instances of adult language.
- All patrons are required to pass through a security checkpoint. Please be prepared to remove all metal items such as keys and cellphones at the metal detectors. Weapons are prohibited on CAPA school property, except for law enforcement.
- Downtown Parking: get real-time parking availability
- Study guide created by our Education department
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at CAPA Theater
- Braille Programs available at CAPA Theater
- Large-Print Programs available at CAPA Theater
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of The Long Walk featuring an excerpt from the following audio clip, recorded live at the American Lyric Theater's InsightALT Festival in June 2014, courtesy of American Lyric Theater:
- Prologue - sung by Heather Johnson playing the role of Jessie.
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
Commissioning, Development, Partners
The Long Walk
Based on the book The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows, by Brian Castner
Music by Jeremy Howard Beck
Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater, Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic DirectorWorld Premiere: Opera Saratoga, July 10, 2015
Commission Underwriting and Developmental Support for The Long Walk has been provided by OPERA America/The Opera Fund, The MAP Fund, The New York State Council on the Arts, and The ASCAP Foundation
The Long Walk was developed under the auspices of the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater in New York City, which is made possible through lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.