Virtual Reality Attained in Knockout review of Rocket Opera

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Rocket Opera


Rocket Opera

The first act, Cosmonauts on the Moon, discusses the former Soviet Union’s failed mission to the moon, a casualty of political manipulations that strained the mission before it was technically mature. Lunar Modules describes details of the development of the US Apollo 11 rocket and its lunar module that landed on the moon in 1969, thanks in part to software engineer Margaret Hamilton. First Women in Space compares stories of Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova and American space pioneer Sally Ride. As a whole, the opera covers historical territory in a way that is coherent, entertaining and metaphorical.

David Cox states:

Both sides lost astronauts and cosmonauts to terrible oxygen-fueled fires, both experienced massive, fatal explosions and both sides faced the terror of the unknown beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. The USA and USSR were, through their enmity, unable to share fully anything that might genuinely assist what might be called a truly global [international] scientific space project. Space Programs were framed as singular, national, geopolitical events with heavy military overtones.


Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space


Sally Ride, the first American woman in space

Musically, the operetta slides between moody art rock, 60s psychodelia and jazz. It features songs with titles such as Institutional Inertia and Flames Appear, all delivered with heavenly, classically-trained vocals against a backdrop of fiery video montage. It would thrive in a full production, with more gestural shape, blocking, and a bigger stage. After all, what would be a more suitable topic for the epic scale of opera than two competitive superpowers vying for landmark discoveries in the astral realm?

Check out this in-depth interview of David Cox:

Stage Credits

Rocket Opera: An Operetta in 3 Parts by David Cox.

Live musicians:

The Performers:
Rachel Levin (Soprano): Valentina Tereshkova
Ania Samborska (Soprano): Soviet Ambassador, Sally Ride
John Smalley (Baritone): Pentagon Spokesperson, Sergei Korolev
Simon Cox: The Voice of Reason

Percussion: Jonathan Parnell
Wind Instruments: Zachary Fischer
Guitars: Jono Jones
Keyboards: David Cox

Art Direction: Molly B. Hankwitz,
Props: Simon Cox
Libretto, Music Compositions: David Cox
Music Arrangements: Jono Jones
Additional Music Composition: John Smalley, Jono Jones

URL for the opera:

Rocket Opera “First Women in Space” to be staged by Lunar Modules on 12/3 at Other Cinema


Back with the finale of his Rocket Operatrilogy is Mission Renaissance man DavidCox! His ensemble epic consummates his quest for a musical translation of the Space Race, especially in the figures of Tereshkova and Ride. His keys cue collaborators John Smalley, Rachel Levin, Ania Samborska, Jonathan Parnell, Zac Fisher, Jono Jones, Molly Hankwitz, and Simon Cox.

8:30pm $9

992 Valencia Street San Francisco, ATA Gallery


see for more information

official LUNAR MODULES website:

vostok sally_ride_in_shuttle sally_ride sally-ride-image-credit-nasa tereshkova_valentina_first_woman_in_space valentina_tereshkova