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The Long Walk - A New Opera of War and Homecoming by Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann based on the Memoir by Brian Castner


A soldier comes home and must adapt to a world that is forever changed. This is a timeless story, though the context continues to change. From Homer’s THE ODYSSEY to the current wave of writing coming out now, it is not just timeless; it is urgent, and wholly of the present moment. 26% of those returning will carry with them the marks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We as a country are in the process of absorbing a huge influx of veterans who will have no choice but to grapple with their combat experiences for years to come.

Brian Castner’s memoir, THE LONG WALK, makes the paradox of the return and the near impossibility of a smooth reintegration come alive. He transports us there—to Iraq—and back, to a home world laced with an agonizing disquiet and charged with shattered and shattering memories. We feel for his endless searching, the need to quiet what he calls “the Crazy.”

The opera, written by composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, was inspired by Castner’s memoir, but goes beyond the page to explore the internal drama of Brian’s story. It is not so much about the events themselves as about the narrator’s process of dealing with what happened – a process which thousands of veterans are dealing with every day. The central character, an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Device) captain who comes home with blast-induced traumatic brain injury, makes a gradual, almost imperceptible journey—with a handful of crystalline revelations along the way — towards a kind of redemption.

The musical world of this chamber opera is simultaneously intense, visceral, and intimate. Unlike traditional operas, this is a highly fractured narrative – a nonlinear exploration inside the mind of man besieged by memory. Through interviews with Brian’s wife Jessie, Beck and Fleischmann have expanded the scope of THE LONG WALK to include the vital and deeply personal perspective of the soldier’s wife – territory that is not explored in the original memoir.

Opera Saratoga has engaged innovative director David Schweizer to bring THE LONG WALK to life on stage. Schweizer, collaborating with designer Mimi Lien, conductor Steven Osgood, and a cast of exceptional singers led by Grammy-Award winning baritone Daniel Belcher, will bring this compelling new opera to life for the first time. The run of four performances will be preceded by a free dress-rehearsal for area veterans and their families, along with a variety of community engagement programs in partnership with the New York State Military Museum and Veteran’s Research Center, also located in Saratoga Springs.

Through the presentation of THE LONG WALK and related community engagement events, Opera Saratoga will be able to introduce the company’s core audience to the vibrancy of what is happening in American opera today, while simultaneously opening the door to new audiences. In addition, we will be able to open a meaningful dialogue about the challenges faced by returning veterans in our communities and will be able to promote greater public appreciation, understanding, and compassion toward veteran-related issues.

Project Media

Final Scene from Act 1 of THE LONG WALK (Beck/Fleischmann)
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Developmental Workshop Produced by American Lyric Theater in NYC (June 2014). Cast (The World Premiere Cast that will appear at Opera Saratoga is featured in this workshop video) Steven Osgood, conductor; Daniel Belcher, baritone; David Blalock, tenor; Javier Abreu, tenor; Justin Hopkins, bass baritone; Caroline Worra, soprano; Donita Volkwijn, soprano; Taylor Levine, Guitar; Djordje Nesic, Piano. Act 1 Finale – 4 consecutive scenes – please see youtube link for synopsis

Jessie’s Aria from the Prologue of THE LONG WALK (Beck/Fleischmann)
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Jessie’s Aria from the prologue of The Long Walk Music by Jeremy Howard Beck Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann Based on the book, The Long Walk, by Brian Castner. Heather Johnson, Mezzo Soprano; Djordje Nesic, Piano; Taylor Levine, Guitar; Steven Osgood, Conductor. Recorded live at American Lyric Theater’s InsightALT Festival in June 2013 – the first developmental workshop for the opera conducted in New York City. Heather Johnson and Steven Osgood will be featured in the world premiere at Opera Saratoga.

Start and End Dates



Saratoga Springs, New York

Project Created By

Saratoga Springs, New York
Opera Saratoga, known as Lake George Opera until 2011, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230. Today, the organization performs for more than 30,000 people each year. To date, the company has performed more than 90 different fully staged works…

In Collaboration With

Floral Park, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Ossining, New York
Commissioning Organization
New York, New York


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