“As Philip, LaMarcus Miller anchored the proceedings with a physically and vocally uncompromising performance as a man trying to escape the prison of his own mind. Unable to meet the eyes of his mother and his helpful fellow vet (a sympathetic Arnold Livingston Geis), his gaze returned to its default steeliness during the flashbacks. Miller’s elegant baritone kept Philip’s essential goodness front and center, even as the war raged inside and around him.”
– Joanne Sydney Lessner, Opera News, February 2017
At the center of the cast is the commanding performance of LaMarcus Miller as Lance Corporal Philip Houston. Miller’s rich, resonant, and virile bass-baritone imbues Philip with a pent-up rage that threatens to explode at any moment.
– Kevin Fullerton, Parterre.com
LaMarcus Miller sustained the high tessitura of the role of Philip effortlessly in his muscular, vibrant baritone, and he actually looked like he could be a Marine, muscular and physically taut.
-James Jorden, The Observer
In the opera, Ellis is represented by a soldier named Philip, sensitively sung by bass-baritone LaMarcus Miller, who spends his time in a veterans’ hospital bed. Sleepless and tormented by the blurring of the past and present, he is under watch after his third suicide attempt. Sometimes his voice swells with the valor of being a soldier; at others it shrinks to a fearful, self-doubting whisper.
– Bruce Hodges, New York Classical Review
Bass-baritone LaMarcus Miller gave Philip an emotionally rich and resonant portrayal, exposing his character’s psychic wounds with palpable empathy.
“The cast is led by the remarkably expressive Miller, an opera singer who could easily be an actor.”
– Lev Bratishenko, Musical Toronto
“LaMarcus Miller, a bold-voiced, compelling, and aptly disjointed protagonist…”
– Josef Woodard, OPERA NOW
“First turn your attention to a young bass-baritone, LaMarcus Miller. His exacting portrayal, of a veteran battling inner demons as alarming as his Iraqi ones, does a brilliant job demonstrating how to make opera matter.Philip still can still taste the brains of a friend killed nearby in a sniper attack. Philip too kills, aimlessly. We almost don’t need the flashbacks, because you see all this in Miller’s eyes and body language; you hear it in his compelling voice. Miller seems to use up nearly every bit of psychic energy in the armory.”
– Mark Swed, LA TIMES – READ MORE
“LaMarcus Miller, a resounding young baritone whose voice can hit like a howitzer, plays Philip, a USMC Lance Corporal who is confined at a medical facility on 72-hour watch following a second suicide attempt.”
“The opera opens with USMC Lance Corporal Philip Houston (played by LaMarcus Miller, who is excellent both vocally and dramatically) being placed in a hospital room for observation following his third post-combat suicide attempt.”
– Chris Carpenter, GAZETTES – READ MORE
“Baritone LaMarcus Miller made a powerful vocal impression as Philip; he even bore some physical resemblance to the real Ellis.”
– Richard S. Ginell, CLASSICAL NORTH AMERICA -READ MORE
The first opera about the Iraq war experience is inspired by the life and work of US Marine, Christian Ellis, Fallujah follows mothers and sons as they search for hope and healing in the aftermath of a war that changed their relationships forever.The opera provides a glimpse inside real hearts and minds before and after one of the Iraq War’s biggest battles. The result is an inspiring, mind-opening, and moving opera by Canadian composer, Tobin Stokes and award-winning Iraqi American playwright, Heather Raffo.
The opera’s characters were inspired by people US Marine Christian Ellis encountered, including fallen comrades. In 2004, Christian Ellis was a young US Marine fighting in the Iraq War. He suffered a broken back when his platoon was ambushed, and was one of the few survivors. When eventually he returned home he found himself battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Fallujah offers a rare, operatic glimpse into the mind of a vet struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.The opera Fallujah began with a generous grant from Charles Annenberg Weingarten and his organization Explore.Org to City Opera Vancouver. Charles tasked City Opera Vancouver with creating a contemporary opera inspired by the life and work of USMC Sergeant Christian Ellis. Ellis served with the Marines in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. Award-winning Iraqi-American playwright and Librettist Heather Raffo met Ellis in the winter of 2011. After extensive interviews began the process with composer Tobin Stokes of translating elements of Ellis’s wartime experience into the opera Fallujah. The opera had four workshops at City Opera Vancouver. The final workshop in 2012 was filmed as part of the legacy of Explore.Org to use the web to create a portal into the soul of humanity and inspire life-long learning. Over the last four years the opera has had developmental workshops at the Kennedy Center, Georgetown University, Arena Stage, Noor Theater (NYC), The Culture Project (NYC), and was written in part at the McCarter Theater’s Sallie B. Goodman Artist Residency. LBO’s production presented the world premiere.