The Salt Lake Tribune – Can a new opera compete with the classics? Utah Opera’s version of ‘Silent Night’ aims to find out.
Forget hoop skirts and ornate tunics, Roman columns and fancy gardens — all the usual trappings of a classic opera. When Utah Opera opens its latest production, “Silent Night,” on Jan. 18, the company is going to war, and war is messy.
“There’s a major battle scene about five minutes into the show that is extremely visceral, both for the action and the music,” said Craig Irvin, a baritone who plays one of the lead roles in the World War I-set opera.
“Ten minutes later, there’s some of the most beautiful music and orchestration I’ve ever heard,” Irvin said. “You can visualize, just through the music, the sun breaking the crest of the horizon, and the frost on the grass start to melt away, and birds taking off. But it ends darkly, because as the sun comes out, you see all the dead bodies.”
“Silent Night” — composed by Kevin Puts, with a libretto by Mark Campbell — premiered in 2011 with Minnesota Opera and won a Pulitzer Prize for music in 2012. It was inspired by the 2005 movie “Joyeux Noel,” and like the film, it tells the story of the Christmas armistice in 1914, when German, French and Scottish soldiers, bitter enemies in “The Great War,” called a temporary truce and met face-to-face over the holiday.