Review: My Lai massacre, 50 years later: Jonathan Berger's opera captures the madness


MARCH 11, 2018

"Where in God's name is the medic?" the dying hospital patient demands. He's not asking for help for himself. He's frantically trying to save a boy's life. It's a scream, one of the important screams in American history, that has haunted him for 38 years.

Jonathan Berger's opera "My Lai" — written for the Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert and Vân-Ánh Võ, a virtuoso player of traditional Vietnamese instruments — takes place during the last hallucinatory days of Hugh Thompson Jr. He was the U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War who flew over the massacre in My Lai. Above the fray, he could see the mass hysteria below that warped the minds of Charlie Company. Those men were infamously commanded to wipe out everything walking, crawling or growing. More than 500 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly, were slaughtered. There was no evidence of Viet Cong activity.