SLAYING THE DRAGON – live video webcast June 9th 8PM ET world premiere opera
Should evil men get a second chance?
The World Premiere of SLAYING THE DRAGON opens JUNE 7 at the PRINCE MUSIC THEATER in Philadelphia, with a live video webcast on June 9th 2012. This new opera tells a powerful story through diverse, energetic, and vibrant music, and deals with themes of ethnic intolerance, forgiveness, and authentic personal redemption. Tech support available HERE
A REBROADCAST IS SCHEDULED FOR JAN 20TH, 2013 AT 8PM ET
Two-act opera in English
ENJOYING TODAY’S EVENT? PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT
Music by Michael Ching
Libretto by Ellen Frankel
Inspired by a true story.
Based on the book “Not By The Sword” by Kathryn Watterson
Cast & Design Team
Christopher Lorge (Tenor) – Jerry Krieg, Grand Dragon KKK
Jason Switzer (Baritone) – Rabbi Nathan Goodman
Teresa Eickel (Soprano) – Vera Goodman, the Rabbi’s wife.
Roland Burks (Bass-Baritone) – Dr. Lincoln Masterson, a Baptist Preacher
David Koh (Tenor) – Giet Long, Director of the Asian American Center
Jennifer Braun/Sarah Beckham (Soprano) – Reverend Ava Gray
Jody Kidwell (Mezzo-Soprano) – Esther, a Holocaust survivor
Paul Corujo (Baritone) – Bud Connor, A Talk Show Host & Grand Magi of the KKK
Robert Davidson (Baritone) – Viper, the Nighthawk of the KKK
Daniel Foltz-Morrison (Tenor) – Beast, a young Skinhead
Sarah Beckham / Jennifer Hoffmann / Alexandra Roth – Tammy
Andrew M. Kurtz – Conductor
Leland Kimball- Stage Director
Peter Tupitza – Set Designer
J. Dominic Chacon – Lighting Designer
Amy Chmielewski – Costume Designer
In the early 1990’s, Larry Trapp, Grand Dragon of the Nebraska Ku Klux Klan, conducted a hate campaign against minority groups in the predominantly white city of Lincoln. But when Cantor Michael and Julie Weisser reached out to this white supremacist, despite his anti-Semitic threats, Trapp turned his back on bigotry, converted to Judaism, and campaigned for tolerance until he died in the Weissers’ home from advanced diabetes at the age of 42. Trapp’s story has inspired several imagined and documentary works, most notably Kathryn Watterson’s 1995 book, Not By the Sword (which will be reissued by the University of Nebraska Press in 2012).
Drawing upon these events and accounts, Slaying the Dragon presents the fictional story of Jerry Krieg, Grand Dragon of the KKK, whose life is transformed when he meets Rabbi Nathan Goodman and his wife, Vera. After waging a hate campaign against Asian immigrants, African-Americans, and Jews in the city, Jerry is ultimately won over by the Goodmans’ compassion. As a consequence, he resigns from the Klan, foils the Klan’s plot to bomb the synagogue, and resolves to speak out for tolerance. Yet despite his well-intentioned declarations, Jerry’s public about-face is met with skepticism by those he has persecuted, especially Giet Long, the Vietnamese director of the Asian Center; Reverend Lincoln Masterson, an African-American preacher; and Esther Zikorn, a Holocaust survivor. In the opera’s climax, an interfaith celebration of Martin Luther King Day at Nathan’s synagogue, Jerry brings his request for forgiveness to the community, which offers him a mixed reception. However, when the rabbi unexpectedly discloses the dark secret of his own criminal past, the tide of public opinion turns in Jerry’s favor. Even so, the opera ends on a note of moral and dramatic ambiguity as we realize that Jerry’s quest for expiation has only just begun, and that the struggle against evil that he has foresworn is far from over.
In the end, this story is about two dragons—the twin serpents of bigotry and public indifference. It’s also about two men, both scarred by early abuse and the absence of love, who find redemption from the prisons of their past. Slaying the Dragon presents a powerful and timely portrait of repentance and forgiveness, and the possibility of authentic personal change.
Prologue: Vera Goodman introduces the story and setting.
Scene 1. Dark interior. Jerry Krieg is sworn in as Grand Dragon of the state KKK.
Scene 2. Center of town. The town rallies to protest the recent bombing of the Asian Center. Jerry and his skinhead henchmen, Viper and Beast, come to heckle. Bud Connor, a right-wing radio show host, speaks eloquently about the dangers of immigration and multiculturalism.
Scene 3. Jerry’s apartment. Jerry calls members of the MLK Day Planning Committee, threatening to disrupt the upcoming program.
Scene 4. Outside Jerry’s apartment. Rabbi Nathan and Vera Goodman come to offer help to Jerry, who has become disabled and now walks with a cane, but are rebuffed.
Scene 5. Goodmans’ house. Meeting of the MLK Planning Committee. Committee members debate how to respond to Jerry’s threats, and decide to move ahead with the program. Vera urges Nathan to reach out to Jerry.
Scene 6. Jerry’s apartment. Klan members meet to plan the bombing of the synagogue during the MLK Day program. Viper and Beast mock Jerry’s physical disabilities. Bud delegates Viper—in place of Jerry–to pull off the synagogue attack. After they leave, Jerry calls Nathan to ask for help.
Scene 1. Jerry’s apartment. That night. When they first arrive, Nathan and Vera are initially threatened by Jerry but then engage him in conversation. Nathan shares the secret of his own dark past; Vera reveals her own struggles with faith. Jerry vows to renounce bigotry and to make amends to his victims. Nathan proposes that Jerry speak at the upcoming MLK Day event. Jerry tells them about the bomb, set to go off during the program, and Nathan calls the police to defuse it.
Scene 2. Nathan’s Study at Temple Emeth. The next day. Jerry asks forgiveness of three of his victims—Lincoln Masterson, Giet Long, and Esther Zikorn—but is met with skepticism and anger.
Scene 3. Sanctuary of Temple Emeth. Reverend Masterson leads the community in song. Nathan speaks about Martin Luther King’s message of love and tolerance. He also discloses his criminal past. Jerry Krieg offers a public apology. Some members of the community accept Jerry’s apology; others reject it. At the opera’s close, Viper is inducted as the next Grand Dragon as the rest of the ensemble sing of a hopeful future.
Center City Opera Theater presents the World Premiere of Slaying the Dragon,
by composer Michael Ching and librettist Ellen Frankel, June 7 & 9 at the
Prince Music Theater and June 14, 16 & 17 at the Academy of Vocal Art’s
Helen Corning Warden Theater. Slaying the Dragon is based on Kathryn
Watterson’s book “Not by the Sword” which depicts the true story of a Klansman
who renounces his hate affiliations through the forgiveness and compassion of a
rabbi. Tickets available online at operatheater.org or by phone 215-238-1555.
PLEASE SUPPORT AN OPERA HOUSE IN YOUR HOMETOWN TODAY.