Messiah of the Trenches

Messiah of the Trenches: a passion
(working title)

A group of soldiers huddle in battlefield trenches. It could be Gallipoli 1916 or Ukraine 2023. They hear over the radio that a Red Cross transport has arrived at a nearby port which will take them to safety if only they can get to it. But pinned down as they are by enemy fire from the adjacent trench, they cannot escape. Through a series of debates, taunts, and challenges one soldier is chosen to walk out onto the battlefield, drawing fire so that the others can retreat to safety. As (s)he crosses the gologothic field, time slows. The soldier experiences the Stations of the Cross (if only in their mind): an empty rifle, their cross to bear. As (s)he walks into a sheet of bullets—piercing their hands, their feet, their side—the others make their escape and once safely aboard the Red Cross ship, they sing the lost soldier’s praise as a martyr; their salvation. For five soloists, chorus (as voices of the dead, Red Cross doctors and nurses, rats, and bullets), and organ.

Music: David T. Little
Libretto: Royce Vavrek
Estimated range of duration: ca. 40 – 60 min.
Estimated instrumentation: five soloists, chorus, and organ.

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