For an opera company known for cultivating young talent and taking on newer, contemporary works (as well as re-envisioning classics), Fort Worth Opera has lagged woefully behind in one area — recording and releasing albums. Hopefully the recent release of Glory Denied, from an FWO production last season, is just the first of many.
Tom Cippulo’s opera is based on the real life story of Col. Jim Thompson, who was imprisoned for nine years by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War — the longest of any American prisoner of war ever. The libretto comes from a biography of the same title by Tom Philpott. Light orchestration and intricate, alternating vocal parts give this opera an instant intimacy that separates it from the grandiose productions that all too often permeate modern opera. Cippulo brilliantly brings the psychological drama of Thompson’s imprisonment directly to listeners through the juxtaposition of two roles: a younger, naive Thompson (David Blalock) and his older, broken self (Michael Mayes). Thompson’s wife Alice is given similar treatment with the portrayal of both her younger (Sydney Mancasola) and older (Caroline Warra) versions.
The live recordings cover 22 tracks and nearly 80 minutes of masterful vocal and orchestral performances under the baton of Tyson Deaton.
FWO director Darren Woods shows no sign of slowing down in his effort to set Fort Worth apart in the competitive opera world. This album will only add to FWO’s growing international profile.