Special Veterans Day opera performance will feature four CoOPERAtive alumni


Opera. Veterans. These two words aren’t typically connected but The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster will honor veterans through a meaningful opera performance.

At last year’s Veterans Day ceremony, the Rider University community was deeply moved by the stirring rendition of the National Anthem sung by Jeffrey Braaten, a CoOPERAtive alumnus and former Marine who served two tours in Iraq.

This year, another special Veteran’s Day performance will feature four CoOPERAtive alumni. Brett Pardue, Grace Gilday, Rebecca Achtenberg and Scott Purcell will perform leading roles in Glory Denied, the acclaimed opera by Tom Cipullo. Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, N.Y., offers this exclusive performance for free for all veterans and their families.

Glory Denied is based on the true story of America’s longest-held POW, Col. Floyd James “Jim" Thompson, who spent nine years in captivity during the Vietnam War. Based on the book by Tom Philpott, the opera tells the story of Jim and Alyce — and the challenges of returning home to a country and a family he doesn’t recognize. Brett Pardue plays Younger Thompson, a role that he has experience in portraying. In June 2017, Pardue performed the part at Opera Upper West in New York City, aboard the Baylander IX-514, a decommissioned U.S. Navy helicopter carrier from the Vietnam era moored at the West Harlem Piers Park.

Grace Gilday performs alongside Pardue as Younger Alyce. Gilday participated in the CoOPERAtive Program in 2014 as a young artist and again in 2016 as a fellow.

Like Gilday, Rebecca Achtenberg, who plays Older Alyce, participated in the CoOPERAtive Program in 2014 as a young artist. Both Rebecca and Brett were sponsored by Princeton Friends of Opera to return to CoOPERAtive in 2016.

The role of Older Thompson is performed by Scott Purcell. Purcell was a CoOPERAtive fellow in 2016 and has been a Resident Artist at Tri-Cities Opera since the 2016 season. His Tri-Cities performances also include La bohème, La Tragédie de Carmen, La Traviata, Hansel and Gretel, L'heure espagnole, and Hydrogen Jukebox. The free veteran performance on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2017, will be the culmination of the “9DAYS” campaign (one day for every year of Col. Jim Thompson’s imprisonment, with various community activities planned for each day). 9 Days of Appreciating Your Service is envisioned to raise awareness about veterans and to allow veterans to share their experiences. Tri-Cities Opera is proud to present Glory Denied and 9 Days to the community and is pleased to partner with the CoOPERAtive Program in sponsoring the CoOPERAtive alumni.

Veterans can reserve their tickets through the Binghamton Vet Center at 607-722-2393. Tickets for the four other performances, Nov. 10, 12, 17 and 19, can be reserved at 607-772-0400 or