Gardner McFall

Learn the story behind Amelia

Amelia: The Libretto

Published by University of Washington Press

In the opera Amelia, a first time mother-to-be, whose psyche has been scarred by the loss of her pilot father in Vietnam, must break free from anxiety to embrace healing and renewal for the sake of her husband and child. Set against a thirty-year period from the 1960s to the 1990s, the story interweaves one woman's emotional journey, the American experience in Vietnam, and elements of myth and history to explore our fascination with flight and the dilemmas that arise when vehicles of flight are used for exploration, adventure, and war. This is an intensely personal libretto by American poet Gardner McFall, whose father was a Navy pilot who served in Vietnam and was lost in the Pacific. It moves from loss to recuperation, paralysis to flight, as the protagonist, Amelia, ultimately embraces her life and the creative force of love and family.

The opera Amelia was commissioned by Seattle Opera. Click here to learn more about the opera and its world premiere on May 8, 2010. 

Click here to read a review of Amelia from the ​Wall Street Journal.



Click here to listen to and read the NPR story about the opera Amelia, and to listen to the  "The Letter Aria" sung by Nathan Gunn, "Dodge's Lullaby" sung by William Burden with the Seattle Symphony, and Gardner McFall's reading of her poem "Missing."