A New Kind of Fallout


A New Kind of Fallout


an opera in two acts and a prologue

Photos, courtesy of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, by Patti Brahim

Photos, courtesy of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, by Patti Brahim

  • A New Kind of Fallout

    an opera in two acts and a prologue

    inspired by the work of environmentalist Rachel Carson

  • Music by Gilda Lyons / Libretto by Tammy Ryan

  • Premiere: Opera Theater of Pittsburgh / July 2015 / Jonathan Eaton, director / Robert Frankenberry, conductor

  • Instrumentation: 1(picc).1(corA).1(bcl).1-hn-timp-perc(1)-pft-

  • Duration: 118’

A New Kind of Fallout turns a magnifying glass on a middle-class family in 1962. Newlyweds Jack and Alice Front are happily in love, with their first child on the way. Jack works in the advertising division of Better Life Chemical Company; Alice enjoys her role as homemaker and host of a neighborhood book club. With the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” their world is shaken: Alice begins to call into question the paradigm of scientific practice that has, to this point, defined safety and progress. Her sudden awareness of her relationship to the environment is intensified by her new role as mother. Alice is motivated speak out against the untargeted dustings of synthetic chemicals on her community. Her new stance threatens her core relationships with friends, family and, most urgently, with her husband, whose professional career with Better Life Chemical Company is jeopardized by Alice’s vocal commitment to change. A present-day narrative augments this through-line: Alice as an older woman, established in the prologue and appearing throughout the opera in various scenes, ghosting or ghosted-by the movements of her younger self, is receiving chemotherapy while dying of cancer. Present-Day Alice examines the long-term outcome of the actions she took and fought for as a young woman.

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YOUNG ALICE FRONT (SOPRANO) / A newly pregnant 20-something homemaker.

JACK FRONT (LYRIC BARITONE) / Alice’s husband. An advertising executive for Better Life Chemical Company.

ARTHUR BEGMAN (BASS) / CEO of Better Life Chemical Company. A company man who worked his way up the corporate ladder as a chemical engineer.

PRESENT-DAY ALICE FRONT (CONTRALTO) / 70-something Alice, battling cancer.



BOB DART (TENOR) / Jack’s best friend, Head of Marketing for BLCC, good looking, charming, cynical.

ED BLOCKER (BARITONE) / A socially awkward chemical engineer at BLCC.

HARRY STRITCH (BASS-BARITONE) / A hard-driving, hard-drinking, politically ambitious, corporate lawyer for BLCC. He is amiable, with a sense of humor, and capable of ruthlessness.



FLORA DART (SOPRANO) / Alice’s college roommate and best friend. She is a practical, company wife and team player.

WINNIE BLOCKER (SOPRANO II) / Delicate, quiet, intense, shy, and protective of her husband.

BETTE STRITCH (MEZZO) / Compassionate but acerbic, witty, brilliant, and combative alcoholic.


AUTHOR'S CHORUS* / THE EARTH (Soprano) / SCIENCE (Soprano II) / THE WORD (Mezzo-soprano)


SUPERS / Judge and Defense Attorney (mute)

PRE-RECORDED SOUND CUES Interspersed throughout the score.

*For smaller casts, AUTHOR’S CHORUS and CHORUS parts may be folded into the roles sung by ALICE’S BOOK CLUB and JACK’S COLLEAGUES   

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