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Press Releases

Opera Company of Philadelphia Welcomes East Coast Premiere of the Pulitzer Prize Winning Silent Night

January 15, 2013 | By Frank Luzi
Director of Communications
Philadelphia, PA: The Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2012-2013 Season continues in February with the highly anticipated East Coast Premiere of SILENT NIGHT, the first opera from American composer Kevin Puts with a libretto by Mark Campbell. Commissioned by the Minnesota Opera for its November 2011 World Premiere, and co-produced by the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Minnesota Opera, the critically-acclaimed new work earned Puts the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. SILENT NIGHT runs in five performances at the Academy of Music, February 8-17, 2013. Tickets are available via Ticket Philadelphia at 215-893-1018 or operaphila.org.

SILENT NIGHT recounts a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history. On World War I’s Western Front, weapons are laid down when Scottish, French and German officers defy their superiors and negotiate a Christmas Eve truce. Enemies become brothers as they come together to share Christmas and bury their dead in a moving dramatic work that features soaring, lyrical melodies and a stellar cast of stars.

The Pulitzer Prize Board called SILENT NIGHT “a stirring opera that recounts the true story of a spontaneous cease-fire among Scottish, French and Germans during World War I, displaying versatility of style and cutting straight to the heart.” Based on the screenplay for “Joyeux Noël” by Christian Carion for the motion picture produced by Nord Ouest Productions, SILENT NIGHT is the first opera written by Puts, an accomplished orchestral composer, and received rave reviews at its world premiere. “With this remarkable debut, Puts assumes a central place in the American opera firmament. Much will be expected from him,” said Opera News.

SILENT NIGHT is the second production of the Opera Company’s ongoing American Repertoire Program, a commitment to produce an American opera in each of ten seasons starting with this past June’s Dark Sisters. “We are proud to be producing the East Coast Premiere of SILENT NIGHT, an exciting new American work by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, in a magnificent co-production with the Minnesota Opera,” said David Devan, General Director and President of the Opera Company of Philadelphia. “It is a moving story, and really offers the finest in opera and theater for today’s audiences. This is the first opportunity to see SILENT NIGHT since it so deservingly won the Pulitzer Prize. We cannot wait to share this incredible American opera.”

Several Opera Company of Philadelphia favorites return for this new work, with acclaimed tenor William Burden starring as Nikolaus Sprink, the drafted opera singer whose voice inspires peace among adversaries, and soprano Kelly Kaduce as his love interest, Anna Sørenson. Burden has performed an array of new and rarely performed works in recent seasons, including the role of Daniel Hill in San Francisco Opera’s "Heart of a Soldier" and Hippolyt in "Phaedra," and he sings the role of Peter in San Francisco’s "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene" in 2013. Kaduce was last seen in Philadelphia as Princess Lan in Tan Dun’s "Tea: A Mirror of Soul" in 2010. Also returning in his second production of the season is baritone Troy Cook, as Father Palmer, the Scottish priest who provides spiritual guidance. Cook most recently performed as Marcello the painter in the season-opening production of "La bohème."

A host of important Opera Company debuts are in store, including baritone Liam Bonner as Lieutenant Audebert, the conflicted French commander. Bonner’s performance credits include the title role in "Pelléas et Mélisande" with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Sid in Los Angeles Opera’s "Albert Herring." Bass-baritone Craig Irvin, a frequent guest artist with Wolf Trap Opera, makes his Company debut as Lieutenant Horstmayer, the German commanding officer, with tenor Gabriel Preisser making his debut as Lieutenant Gordon, a role he created at the Minnesota Opera world premiere.

Oscar-winning, Tony-nominated director Eric Simonson stages this new production with scenic design by Francis O’Connor, costume design by Kärin Kopischke, lighting design by Marcus Dilliard, projection design by Andrzej Goulding and sound design by C. Andrew Mayer. Maestro Michael Christie, newly appointed to the role of music director for the Minnesota Opera and long-standing music director at Colorado Music Festival and the Phoenix Symphony, makes his company debut at the orchestra podium.

The Opera Company has scheduled its annual fundraising gala for the week prior to the opening of SILENT NIGHT. N.O.W. - Gala Celebration of New Operatic Works will be held on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, featuring silent and live auctions, dinner, dancing, live operatic performance, and special celebrity guests including baritone Nathan Gunn, director of the American Repertoire Council. For more information on this event, please visit www.operaphila.org/gala.

SILENT NIGHT Music by Kevin Puts Libretto by Mark Campbell American Repertoire Program A NEW CO-PRODUCTION with the Minnesota Opera February 8, 10m, 13, 15 & 17m, 2013 Sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin with English translations

Performance times: Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

To learn more about SILENT NIGHT Please visit http://www.operaphila.org/production/silent-night to find casting information, audio clips, synopses, special programming, biographies, ticketing services and other company information.

The production of SILENT NIGHT is underwritten by the Wyncote Foundation, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Music Project, and Mrs. Barbara August Teichert. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jacob Burns Foundation, Inc.

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