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Please make checks payable to Fulcrum Arts. Note ARKHIPOV on the memo line or voucher.

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Fulcrum Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103

ARKHIPOV is a 75-minute chamber opera to be composed by Peter Knell with a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann.  The opera centers on Vasili Arkhipov, whose unsung heroism is all that stood between humanity’s existence and annihilation. The proposed opera tells the story of the events leading up to the fulcrum of the Cuban Missile Crisis—a moment when the future of the globe clearly hung in the balance—and conjures a portrait of the man responsible for defusing the conflict.

Arkhipov was the deputy fleet commander of a fleet of four submarines sent to establish a base in Cuba.  In an act of incomprehensible recklessness, the Soviet military equipped each sub with a 15-kiloton nuclear torpedo.  If fired, this “special weapon” would ignite a full-fledged nuclear war.

On October 27, a US carrier group forced the sub to make an emergency dive despite dangerously low battery power and debilitating conditions. The fleet of 14 US ships attempted to signal the submarine to surface by dropping “practice” depth charges. This convinced the submarine’s beleaguered captain, Vitali Savitsky, that World War III had broken out. Savitsky ordered the launch of B-59’s nuclear torpedo, an action that required the approval of the ship’s “political officer,” who supported Savitsky. But Savitsky needed the consensus of his deputy fleet commander as well. Archipov refused to fire the torpedo, accepting instead the humiliation of surfacing under the control of the American forces. And so the world continued spinning on its axis.