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August 25, 2017

“Gripping” My Lai coming to Singapore, NYC, Berkeley, LA & Iowa City

This season, Kronos is proud to be touring Jonathan Berger and Harriet Scott Chessman’s My Lai: A monodrama for tenor, string quartet, and Vietnamese instruments with Rinde Eckert and Vân-Ánh Võ. The intimate, evening-length character study of the My Lai massacre whistleblower Hugh Thompson has been praised as “hauntingly beautiful” by the San Francisco Chronicle, “absorbing” and “eloquent” by the Chicago Tribune, and “gripping” by the San Francisco Classical Voice. Tickets are now on sale for the performances below:

Singapore // Aug 31–Sep 1 // Singapore International Festival of Arts
Brooklyn // Sep 27–Sep 30 // BAM | 2017 Next Wave Festival
Northern California // Mar 4 // Cal Performances at University of California, Berkeley
Southern California // Mar 9 // Center for the Art of the Performance at UCLA
Iowa City // Mar 21 // Hancher at The University of Iowa

Photo by Zoran Orlic


In an instant, a decision is made. The actions that follow may pass without a second thought, or may have consequences that last a lifetime. That moment may even alter history.

My Lai starts from the fateful choices of Army Warrant Officer Hugh C. Thompson Jr. on March 16, 1968.  As he and his crew – Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn – flew in a helicopter over the Vietnam countryside, they witnessed American soldiers killing Vietnamese villagers – 500 women, children, and the elderly. Exhibiting extraordinary moral courage, they chose to intercede. When they failed to stop the massacre, they resolved to rescue as many civilians as they could and to never be silent about what they saw. Despite a coordinated military cover-up that vilified him as a traitor, Thompson helped bring the truth to light. His actions changed the American public’s perception of the war forever.

In Jonathan Berger and Harriet Scott Chessman’s fevered character study of Thompson, it is not his heroism that day that takes center stage, but the tragedy of how those implicated in war are haunted by the trauma of its violence – regardless of how they acted. His story emerges in fragments as tenor Rinde Eckert, portraying Thompson near the end of his life, reflects on past and present, trapped in a web of fury, sorrow, and yearning. Careening from reflective arias to disoriented recitatives, Eckert’s expressive voice soars above the richly evocative score performed by Kronos Quartet and Vietnamese multi-instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Võ.

2018 marks 50 years since the My Lai massacre.


Read Seymour M. Hersh’s 1969 St. Louis Post-Dispatch articles, which exposed the truth of the My Lai massacre and won him the Pulitzer Prize the following year for his reporting

Watch the 2010 PBS documentary American Experience presents My Lai

Read “How to Write about a Massacre,” a personal essay by librettist Harriet Scott Chessman about the process of writing My Lai

Read the first part of “Coverup,” Seymour M. Hersh’s 1972 New Yorker feature about the My Lai massacre


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