Long Beach Gets Glimpse into the Iraq War with Long Beach Opera’s FALLUJAH

Fallujah, the first opera exploring the Iraq War experience, makes its world premiere March 12 through March 20 at the Long Beach Army National Guard on Seventh Street. The powerful work will expose the anguish of war, the residual scars of war and the search for hope and redemption.

The opera follows the struggles of a veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and his inner battle of coming to terms with the violence he’s experienced. Like many combat veterans, he looks for reconciliation and recovery by reconnecting the broken bonds to his family and friends.


The story was originally inspired by U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Sergeant Christian Ellis. Ellis, who suffers from PTSD, serves as the consultant for Fallujah and acknowledges that the work has helped him cope with some issues.

“People just don’t realize that the war never ends for us, even if we’re at home laughing and joking,” Ellis said in a statement. “Even if you’ve got all 10 fingers and all 10 toes, it’s those invisible injuries we’re struggling to overcome.”

Long Beach Opera, in collaboration with KCETLink Media group and explore.org, will bring Canadian composer Tobin Stokes and Iraqi-American librettist Heather Raffo’s work to life. LBO’s artistic and general director, Andreas Mitisek, will serve as the stage director and production designer. He is set to create a captivating stage using projections of art created by veterans.

Raffo’s interest in making sure the Iraqi characters were fully fleshed comes from her dad, who is Iraqi. She also believes opera is the perfect outlet for such a powerful work.

“The dramatic heights and intricate levels of conflict and detail you can get in this kind of music are suited to the dramatic heights of conflict in war,” Raffo said in a statement.

Stokes also researched Iraqi music, but soon “realized the best thing is to listen hard” and then “forget all about it and let your own vision take over…” Sokes said the ultimate job for individuals is “to make the piece work on its own terms.”

The lead role of Philip will be played by baritone LaMarcus Miller. Geis as Philip’s fellow soldiers and Jonathan Locayo, Ani Maldjian and Zeffin Quinn Hollis as Iraqi civilians caught in the conflict. The ensemble cast will also feature Suzan Hanson as Philip’s mother Colleen, Jason Switzer, Todd Strange, Arnold L and Gregorio González.

A live broadcast performance of Fallujah will be available to subscribers of KCET Public Television in Southern California and the Link TV National Satellite Network on March 18 at 8:00PM. Simulstream will also be available online at KCET.org/Fallujah and LinkTV.org/Fallujah.

Tickets can be purchased by calling LBO Box Office Services at 562.432.5934 or online at www.longbeachopera.org/tickets. Ticket prices range from $67 to $137. Students can purchase tickets for $15 with I.D., space available.

Performance dates:

  • Saturday March 12, 2016 at 8:00PM
  • Sunday March 13, 2016 at 2:30PM
  • Thursday March 17, 2016 at 8:00PM
  • Friday March 18, 2016 at 8:00PM
  • Saturday March 19, 2016 at 2:30PM and 8:00PM
  • Sunday March 20, 2016 at 2:30PM

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