|Opera Memphis production of The Falling and the Rising. Photo by Ziggy Mack.|
The Falling and the Rising is a new American opera. It explores the sacrifice, duty, and human connection experienced by members of the armed services and is based on interviews and true stories from dozens of Army veterans. The story is told by an unnamed female soldier. After being injured in a roadside attack, she is placed in an induced coma. In her dreamlike state she encounters fellow service members who share their stories with her.
|Stephanie Johnson photo by Mark Reis and EJ Hersom.|
Army Specialist Stephanie Johnson
—Jenny McCoy, Self magazine
|Jeremy Haynes at his home in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Photo by Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times|
Retired Major Jeremy Haynes
“…After I was shot four times in Afghanistan I was told I would never walk again, would never have feeling below my waist—if I even survived. I felt paralyzed, physically and mentally, as though my ability to be a man was gone. Depression and thoughts of suicide threatened to keep me at the bottom forever. My amazing wife and phenomenal healthcare providers were there to catch me and keep pushing me forward. I learned that psychological care is key to recovery from both invisible and physical wounds. Today, I no longer carry my burdens alone.”
Excerpt from Haynes’ testimonial for The Real Warriors Campaign, which encourages help-seeking behavior among service members, veterans, and military families coping with invisible wounds.
Retired Sergeant Tyler McGibbon
“Tyler had this incredible story about what his coma experience was like. … We leaned into that story right off the bat and knew that was going to be the arc of the piece: the idea of a liminal space inhabited by the mind of a soldier in an induced coma. It allowed us the freedom to interject different voices, different stories, different narratives.”
—Jerre Dye, The Falling and the Rising librettist
In 2014, Sgt. Tyler McGibbon was involved in a Humvee rollover accident in Kuwait that resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury. He underwent multiple surgeries and remained in a coma for three months. From 2015 to 2017, he faced additional surgeries and 2,482 therapy appointments—including music and art therapies. Today, at his home in Toms River township, New Jersey, he continues therapy with his service dog Trooper. “If I could do it again, I wouldn’t change one thing. That’s the most important factor of joining the military, becoming someone better than you were the day before,” McGibbon says.
The Falling and the Rising plays at the Opera Center (363 Mercer St.) Nov. 15–24, 2019.
Tickets & info: seattleopera.org/rising