The Original Opera “Heroes”

 Project Structure

OperaImage“Heroes”  – An Original Opera. A culminating effort for Helping the Heroes brings together the personal histories, interaction, and transition activities of our Peer and Caregiver Support Program with the artistic works of the multi-discipline art therapy program to create and world premiere a new opera highlighting the challenges and triumphs of our heroes, their families, and caregivers. The “first of its kind” opera will use the experiences, personal accounts, and interactions between veterans, their families and caregivers to form the libretto and inspire the original score. Mentored by internationally renown artists from all mediums, participating veterans create photographic, multi-media, and other visual art for staging, scenery and opera visual effects while contributing to writing and performing the opera. Veterans’ Video histories from World War II to the present are other key outcomes. Although the primary objective is the creativity of the work itself, the project will engage Americans throughout the nation in experiencing art; increase knowledge and skills in the arts; and strengthen communities through art, particularly in the sensitive areas of conflict, physical and mental disabilities, and veterans’ issues. 

 Project Partners

Helping the Heroes is partnering with the Blinded Veterans Association, The Graffiti of War Project and members of the music and visual arts industries to make this important project a reality.

Paired with veterans in creating and performing the opera will be libretto Karen Hayes and Composer John O’Hara. Karen Hayes has many years’ experience working in collaborative theatre and as a poet and librettist in arts and dementia care having published two anthologies and a short film in this field. She is an experienced opera and music theatre director. John O’Hara has a career as a classical composer/musician for both theater and stage, and as a rock musician in the band Jethro Tull. His compositions include a children’s opera and two other pieces by the Welsh National Opera. He’s also composed for wildlife, drama and documentary TV.  John holds teaching positions at Bath and Bristol Universities and is a guest tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. John O’Hara and Karen Hayes have worked together for over 4 years giving marginalized groups within society a voice in music and words. Recently they partnered with Welsh National Opera (UK) to create an Opera Film “I Had An Angel” and the Three Choirs Festival in collaboration with MindSong (UK) for a semi-staged Opera “The Bargee’s wife”  and a song cycle “I Can Hear You Waiting”. The project has significant global perspectives and will be adaptable for performances internationally.


Our Veterans in the Arts project held its first major event on October 5, 2015 at The National Theater in Richmond, Virginia with an exhibit of art art created by veterans using art therapy. Coordination is now on-going to acquire funding and begin interviews and documenting veterans personal accounts for the libretto. Veteran artists are already compiling their for the visual effects. We hope to begin work on veterans personal histories both in the US and UK with the 2016 Project Gemini events.

You can help make this project a reality by donating HERE.

Building on Success for the Future

Our efforts moving forward will blend the important work of art and music therapy with documenting the histories of our heroes, their families and caregivers into the final work for a world premier in 2016 or 2017.

Heroes Opera Chart