Glory Denied

Music & libretto: Tom Cipullo
Based on the book by Tom Philpott
Premiere Date: May 5, 2007, Brooklyn College Opera Theater, Brooklyn

Recording Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Assistant Conductor: Valerie Pool
Featuring: The Atlanta Opera Orchestra, Michael Mayes, Kelly Kaduce, David Blalock, and Maria Valdes
Carl W. Knobloch Jr. General & Artistic Director: Tomer Zvulun
Carl & Sally Gable Music Director: Arthur Fagen

Recording Engineers: Joseph Greenway & Mark Fucito
Editing & Mixing Engineers: Mark Fucito & Walter Jeworski
Mastering: Walter Jeworski

America’s longest-held prisoner of war dreams of coming home. But home is a place he will not recognize. Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied explores the gut-wrenching saga of Col. Jim Thompson as he transitions from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the tree-lined streets of suburban America. Based on interviews collected for the 2001 chronicle by Tom Philpott, the opera Glory Denied pays witness to one soldier’s journey, and to the war raging within the hearts and minds of countless returning veterans.


About The Recording

Glory Denied was recorded at the Morgan Concert Hall, located within the Bailey Performance Center at the Bailey School of Music, Kennesaw State University, between June 13th and June 16th, 2021.

This is the first recording of the work in its full orchestral version. The Atlanta Opera would like to thank Dr. Leslie J. Blackwell and Ivan Pulinkala for providing the recording location.


Act I

Colonel Floyd James Thompson (Jim), America’s longest-held prisoner of war, looks back on his years as a captive.  He sees himself as a young man and recalls episodes from his nine-year ordeal; escape attempts, torture, the overwhelming loneliness of four years in solitary confinement, being forced to sign a propaganda statement.  Through it all, he finds the strength to survive in memories of his wife and family.  He recalls every letter his beloved Alyce sent to him before his capture.

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As Thompson thinks on his idealized wife, Alyce receives the news that his surveillance plane has been shot down.  Filled with fear and bitterness, she soon begins a relationship with another man (Harold), eventually moving in with him and telling the children that their father has died.  Alyce denies permission for Jim’s name to be released to the public, not even for one of the P. O. W. bracelets that were common at the time.  She consults a lawyer in an effort to have him declared legally dead.

As the act nears its conclusion, Thompson finds comfort in the 23rd Psalm as themes from the opera swirl around him.  On his last word (“forever”), he is freed from prison, and a reunion with Alyce, inevitable and tragic, awaits.

Act II

Scene 1

The P.O.Ws are released and Jim returns home.  The Pentagon announces another man, a Navy pilot, as the longest-held prisoner.  Excerpts from the Paris Peace Accords interrupt the pre-war memories of Jim and Alyce.  Jim reads a letter of welcome from President Nixon, the text noting ominously that “Some things about America may appear to have changed since your departure.”  Alyce meets Jim and confesses.  She offers to disappear if that is what he wants, but only after he hears her out.  Jim decides to attempt a reconciliation.  He notes how the nation has become different during his ordeal, at first mentioning improvements in material items and civil rights, but inevitably concluding with disdain for the new permissiveness and for his wife’s infidelity.   Soon, the couple begins to fight, and Jim complains, “You’re not the Alyce I left.”  For her part, Alyce asserts her independence, refusing to be the docile obedient wife.  She tells of what her life was like during his absence, of the callous behavior of neighbors and family, of late- night crank calls from malicious strangers, of her fear and loneliness.

Jim visits the church where he and Alyce were married and speaks to the congregation.  He tells how he survived his ordeal, stressing his “faith in God, country, and the love of a good woman.”  Alyce too, both young and old, speaks simply of how she survived.  Afterwards, Jim tells Alyce that he has come to forgive her, that all his bitterness is gone.  Alyce responds that she “doesn’t give a shit if he forgives her or not.”  The scene nears its conclusion as Alyce asks, “What have I done that calls for forgiveness?”

Scene 2

Jim (Older) sits alone in his study.  He has separated from Alyce for good.  Illness has ended his military career.  He asks himself over and over “What to do today?”  He finds consolation in the phrase “One day at a time,” just as he did when he was a prisoner.  Jim tries to stay positive and confident, but bitter feelings keep intruding.  He struggles to forgive, but concludes “everyone else had a bracelet.”

Courtesy of Tom Cipullo

Characters & Cast

Col. Jim Thompson

America’s longest-held prisoner of war

Michael Mayes

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Young Jim

David Blalock

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Older Alyce

Kelly Kaduce

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Young Alyce

Maria Valdes

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The Atlanta Opera Orchestra


Helen Kim
The Loraine P. Williams Orchestra Concertmaster Chair

Jessica Stinson
Assistant Concertmaster

Rafael Veytsblum

Robert Givens

Edward Eanes

Shawn Pagliarini

Adelaide Federici
Principal Second Violin

Angèle Sherwood-Lawless
Assistant Principal Second Violin

Lisa Morrison

Felix Farrar

Patrick Ryan



William Johnston

Joli Wu
Assistant Principal

Ryan Gregory

Elizabeth Derderian-Wood



David Hancock

Mary Kenney
Assistant Principal

Cynthia Sulko

Harrison Cook


Emory Clements

Rob Henson



Kelly Smith-Bryant



John Warren



Debra Clark Grove

John Grove


French Horn

David Bradley



Hollie Lifshey


Richard Brady



John Lawless



Mike Cebulski

Jeff Kershner



Susan Brady


Personnel Manager

Jim Zellers


Musicians employed are represented by the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.


Tom Cipullo (b. 1956)

Hailed by the American Academy of Art & Letters for music that displays “inexhaustible imagination, wit, expressive range and originality,” composer Tom Cipullo’s works are performed regularly throughout the United States and with increasing frequency internationally.  The winner of a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Sylvia Goldstein Award from Copland House, and the 2013 Arts & Letters Award from the American Academy, Mr. Cipullo has received commissions from Music of Remembrance, SongFest, Joy in Singing, the Cecilia Chorus, the New York Festival of Song, the Mirror Visions Ensemble, Sequitur, Cantori New York, tenor Paul Sperry, mezzo-soprano Mary Ann Hart, the Five Boroughs Music Festival, pianist Jeanne Golan, soprano Martha Guth, soprano Hope Hudson, the Walt Whitman Project, baritone Jesse Blumberg, and many others. He has received multiple fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and awards from the Liguria Study Center (Bogliasco, Italy), the Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), the Oberpfaelzer Kuenstlerhaus (Bavaria), and ASCAP.

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Mr. Cipullo is the composer of two operas.  The most recent, After Life, was commissioned by Music of Remembrance and premiered by that organization in Seattle and San Francisco in 2014.  Glory Denied (2007), after the book by journalist Tom Philpott, is based on the true story of America’s longest-held prisoner of war.  The piece has already received five full productions, including a recent run of ten performances with the acclaimed Fort Worth Opera.  In addition, Opera Memphis, Chelsea Opera, Opera Idaho, and Vulcan Lyric Opera will mount productions in 2015 and 2016.  Critical reception to the opera has been enthusiastic.  The July 2013 issue of Opera News called the piece “intimate in its presentation…and epic in its scope and effect,” citing the work as “tense, nervous, and gripping theater.”  The Fort Worth Star Telegram called Glory Denied “a powerful drama of great music and acting intensity,” Fort Worth Weekly  cited it as “a powerfully realistic thriller and an abashedly honest commentary on the America of the 1960s and 70s,” and D Magazine recognized the work as “an intimate operatic  masterpiece.”  Theater Jones called Glory Denied “horrifying, riveting, involving, shocking, inspiring, overwhelming, appalling, and devastating – in that order.”  A production by the UrbanArias company in Arlington, Virginia (2011) was reviewed by The Washington Post.  Under a headline that exclaimed “Vietnam-Era Saga Glory Denied Doesn’t Withhold a Single Musical Wish,” the Post praised a “luminous score that offered vivid embodiments of the protagonist’s mental states.”



Nicole Paiement

Nicole Paiement has gained an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. Her numerous recordings include many world premiere works.

Maestro Paiement’s 2012 Dallas Opera debut conducting Peter Maxwell Davies’ 1979 thriller, The Lighthouse earned rave reviews. Subsequently, Paiement was appointed Principal Guest Conductor at The Dallas Opera. Paiement has since returned to Dallas to conduct performances of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, as well as the critically acclaimed and highly anticipated world premiere of Joby Talbot’s opera Everest, Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Douglas Cuomo’s Arjunas Dilemma. In 2018, Paiement conducted the US premiere of Michel Van Der Aa’s Sunken Garden.

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Founder and Artistic Director of San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle, Paiement has conducted many new productions, including: world premieres of Lou Harrison’s final version of Young Caesar, Dante De Silva’s commissioned opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness (presented as a graphic opera), Luciano Chessa’s commissioned opera A Heavenly Act, the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the premiere of the re-orchestration of Terence Blanchard’s Champion in collaboration with SFJAZZ Center; West Coast premieres of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Philip Glass’ Orphée; Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts; Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar; Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias; Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel; American Premieres of Adam Gorb’s Anya 17 and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; the San Francisco Bay Area return of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse; Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles; and Jonathan Dove’s Flight.  In 2017/18 Paiement conducted a new double bill of Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in collaboration with SFJAZZ, as well as Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. Opera Parallèle made its debut at Phillip Glass’ Days & Nights Festival in the 2018/19 season with Glass’ In the Penal Colony. That season also featured Paiement conducting the world premiere performances of Today it Rains, a commissioned opera by Laura Kaminsky based on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the return of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. Most recently with OP, Paiement was conductor for the company’s groundbreaking film project, Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera. 

Ms. Paiement is a very active guest conductor. In 2019, she made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, as well as performances with the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival (2016 – 2018) and a debut at Seattle Opera with Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Other prior engagements include Talbot’s Everest with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera and Washington National Opera for the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife. In 2019 Paiement also conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You with Merola Opera Program, San Francisco.

Mo. Paiement made her debut at L’Opéra de Montréal with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin’s Written on Skin in January 2020 and with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in November 2020. Upcoming engagements include a concert performance with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, Italy in January 2022, followed by her UK premiere in November 2022 with the English National Opera. Paiement will return to the UK in June 2023 to conduct Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Center, London. Mo. Paiement will also return to the Dallas Opera in April 2022 to conduct Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers and to L’Opéra de Montréal in Season 22/23.

Paiement has served as the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) where she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works from many living American composers. At SFCM, she holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music. Paiement previously served as the Director of Ensembles at the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC), where she was awarded the UCSC Eminent Professor Award in 2014. She received the Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship in 2015 in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievement in artistic scholarship and teaching.

Paiement was awarded American Composer’s Forum’s “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music in 2016. In addition to being a leader in the world of contemporary opera, Ms. Paiement is also a specialist in early 20th Century French music and regularly conducts music from the Baroque and Classical repertoire.


Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director

Tomer Zvulun

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Israeli born Tomer Zvulun is also one of leading stage director of his generation, earning consistent praise for his creative vision and innovative interpretations. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses in Europe, South and Central America, Israel and the US, including The Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas, San Diego, Boston, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Israeli Opera, and the festivals of Wexford, Glimmerglass and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, and Boston University.

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Tomer spent seven seasons on the directing staff of the Metropolitan Opera where he directed revivals of Carmen and Tosca and was involved with more than a dozen new productions. He is a frequent guest director in companies such as Seattle Opera (Semele, La Bohème, Eugene Onegin, Lucia di Lammermoor), Dallas Opera (Die Fledermaus, La Bohème), Houston (Flying Dutchman, Rigoletto), Wexford Festival (Silent Night, Dinner at Eight), Cincinnati Opera (Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Flying Dutchman), Wolf Trap (Falstaff, Don Giovanni), Israeli Opera (Dead Man Walking, Giulio Cesare) among others. His European premiere of Silent Night at the Wexford Festival received two Irish Times Awards and traveled from Ireland to Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival and the opera companies of Atlanta, Austin and Salt Lake City.

Zvulun directed over 15 new productions in his home company in Atlanta, including Dead Man Walking, Flying Dutchman, Soldier Songs, Silent Night, Maria de Buenos Aires, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, Magic Flute, and Eugene Onegin to name but a few. During Tomer’s tenure, the company’s fundraising has tripled, resulting in twice the number of productions presented annually. His focus on innovation has garnered national attention and resulted in a Harvard Business School case study chronicling The Atlanta Opera’s turnaround, an International Opera Awards nomination, an ArtsATL Luminary Award, and an invitation to deliver a TEDx Talk about innovation in opera.

His upcoming projects include a new Rigoletto in Houston; a new Salome in Atlanta and Kansas City; revivals of his acclaimed production of Eugene Onegin in Montreal, Seattle and Palm Beach; Silent Night at Utah Opera; and Madama Butterfly and Glory Denied in Atlanta. He is currently working on developing a world premiere based on Anne Frank’s Diary and Sensorium Ex, a world premiere based on a story about artificial intelligence.

Tomer’s recent shows have traveled across continents, receiving critical acclaim for their striking visuals and cinematic quality. Some of them included The Flying Dutchman (Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta), Dinner at Eight (Wexford Festival, Minnesota Opera), Eugene Onegin (Seattle, Atlanta, Detroit, Kansas City), Lucia di Lammermoor (Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland) Silent Night (Wexford, Atlanta, Glimmerglass, Washington, Austin), Soldier Songs (Atlanta, San Diego), Dead Man Walking (New Orleans, Atlanta), La Bohème (Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta, Dallas), Lucrezia Borgia (Buenos Aires), Gianni Schicchi (Juilliard, IVAI Tel Aviv), L’heaure Espagnole (Juilliard), Magic Flute (Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indiana University), Don Giovanni (Wolf Trap, Cincinnati), Die Fledermaus (Dallas, Kansas City), Falstaff (Wolf Trap, Des Moines), Rigoletto (Boston, Atlanta, Omaha, Charlotte), Madama Butterfly (Atlanta, Castleton Festival, New Orleans), Tosca (National Theatre Panama, Atlanta) and Semele (Seattle).

Tomer Zvulun was born and raised in Israel, attended the open University in Tel Aviv and Harvard Business School and makes his home in Atlanta.