Salt Lake Magazine – Silent Night: Not typical, not silent.

by Jen Hill

The most acclaimed American opera is making its way to the Utah Opera in January 2020. Silent Night is a Pulitzer Prize-winning production based on Christian Carion’s 2005 screenplay Joyeux Noël, and composed by Kevin Puts, librettist Mark Campbell and directed by Tomer Zvulun.

To gain further insights into the Utah Opera’s current production, we were invited to interview a few of the cast members in their full costume as they recreated scenes and sang for us. I was also able to spend time with them individually. And, with their musical training and ability to project, we were “hushed” throughout due to the abundant volume from those who spend their lives to do just that. Opera being quite literally “musical theatre on steroids,” there were no problems with poor enunciation or audibility here.

“While some operas get you in the heart, this one gets into your head too,” explains operatic cast member Craig Irvin, who plays German Lt. Horstmayer. “Because of how the stage is set, you are able to witness what multiple characters are going through all at once.” As a German Lieutenant, Americans generally match the role of a “bad guy” but admits Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell brilliantly created his character to be complex and challenge that knee-jerk evil assumption. “At first his character may seem cold and you could easily tag him as a bad person,” Irvin explains, “However, later you realize his intention is to do his job as a German to the best of his abilities, which was ultimately to save the lives of his troops.”

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