New opera gets a pretty rap. It could be that people have a bad taste in their mouth from too many 12 tone experiments, or maybe they just feel that opera peaked with Puccini.
I love new opera. Well. I love going to new opera, of course I don’t love every new opera that I see, but there’s nothing more exciting than seeing some of the amazing things new composers and librettists are creating in our genre.
But maybe you’re not so sure…
I understand. I really do. The problem with new opera is that we haven’t had 300 years to filter out all the … less successful … attempts. So yes, there’s a chance when you go to see something that’s just been written that it might not have worked out all the kinks yet.
Remember that when Mozart wrote Don Giovanni he was still adapting it between premieres (which is why tenors now have to sing Dalla sua pace AND Il mio tesoro). What you see on opening is still part of the process.
But if you’re still on the fence, and you’re in the Montreal area during May, you have to see Silent Night, a new opera by American composer Kevin Puts, and librettist Mark Campbell.
Well here are 5 reasons I think you should go:
- It will break your stereotype of what ‘new’ opera is.
There are battles, explosions, cinematic cuts, projections and beautiful melodies (I promise… real melodies).
If you’ve got a sour taste in your mouth about new opera, this is the show that will help rinse that out.
- It’s based on a true story
The story is based on the World War I Christmas truce, if it’s not a story you know you’re in for a treat. It feels completely unbelievable, a moment of incredible connection and humanity in the middle of a conflict that lacked either of those qualities.
Even though it’s a story that’s 100 years old already, it’s one that feels shockingly modern. Families split due to war, young lives lost before their time, tragedy, love… it has all the things a good opera need.
- The chorus’s are incredible
I’m a big fan of Kevin’s music in this piece, but the things that really stand out are the big chorus numbers. Since it’s a war opera, there are only 2 female parts, and a ton of men on the stage. It’s a lot of testosterone, but when they combine in moments like the ‘sleep chorus’ it’s … magic.
- It’s an all Canadian Cast
This might excite you… it might not. But it’s still pretty cool. Silent Night has a big cast, and it feels like most of the male opera singers in the country have gathered together to put this show on.
We’re so spoiled in Canada to have the talent that we have right at our finger tips. it’s been a real thrill to work with these singers (and have the Hab game on backstage! Only in Canada)
- It’s in 5 languages
One of the coolest things about this piece is that every different national group (German, French, English) speaks their own language. Add a little operatic Italian, and some liturgical Latin, and you’ve got a linguists dream opera.
Most theatre glosses over translation problems, but in Silent Night you’ll often find characters translating for one another, striving to communicate in a way that feels very… real.
It also means that no matter which language you speak, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a few words in your native tongue.
- BONUS REASON: It will change you…
Of all the cheesy, vague things to say… but I don’t have a better way to put it.
I really love this piece. It brings together simple, sweeping melodies, with a powerful story. I’m not afraid that I’m overhyping it. I believe that if you come and sit in our audience… you will walk away changed in some small way.
It’s why people come to see the arts… shows like this.
Don’t miss it.
For information on tickets, or dates check out below.