Arts News

New opera explores vetrans' trauma

New opera explores vetrans' trauma featured image

 It was through the power of opera that Christian Ellis, an Iraq war veteran, started to find solace after his return from duty. Ellis is now using this medium to share his experiences with a larger audience.

Fallujah is Ellis’s two-hour Opera that takes the viewer inside the head of a veteran, experiencing flashbacks of the war. These flashbacks are ones that Ellis experiences himself to this day.

Fallujah was developed in Vancouver by City Opera Vancouver with the the help of playwright Heather Raffo, composer Tobin Stokes, nine actors and an 11-member orchestra in a kind of performance laboratory. It debuted online at and will be marketed to opera houses. is a division of the Los Angeles-based Annenberg Foundation. Charles Annenberg, the Vice President and Director of the foundation met Ellis at a retreat for veterans with PTSD.

“With its rich history of conveying heartbreak and human suffering, Annenberg thought opera was the perfect medium because it allows people to feel the fear and turmoil veterans confront daily. He also loved how opera-singing troops break the stereotype of battle-hardened Marines.

Ellis is a living example of war’s human cost. His chest and arms are covered in tattoos of jagged bolts with red spots representing 33 of his comrades who have died either in battle or by suicide.”


You can watch scenes and interviews related to Fallujah on

Photo | AP Photo/Gregory Bull

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