HAVING coined the phrase “the banality of evil,” Hannah Arendt went on to suggest that the most heinous crimes have often been committed by morally desensitized ordinary people. The inverse may be equally true: that “ordinary” heroes like Rick Rescorla, who saved almost 2,700 lives on Sept. 11, 2001, only to lose his own, are the yang to Arendt’s yin, demonstrating what you might call the profundity of virtue.
The story of Rescorla’s heroism during the World Trade Center attacks is the stuff of opera, a hypertheatrical medium that holds a magnifying mirror up to nature. So it’s not entirely surprising that Rescorla’s story will materialize on the stage of the San Francisco Opera in the form of “Heart of a Soldier” beginning on Saturday, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks. (Cori Ellison, The New York Times)