Scottish troops gather around Lieutenant Gordon (Gabriel Preisser) in Opera Philadelphia’s East Coast premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier.
A scene from Opera Philadelphia's East Coast premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night, with music by Kevin Puts and libretto by Mark Campbell, co-produced with the Minnesota Opera. Photo by Michal Daniel.
Opera Philadelphia presented the East Coast premiere of Silent Night, a new opera by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and the Minnesota Opera, where it received its world premiere in November 2011 in five sold-out performances. Silent Night adapts the 2005 film Joyeux Noël, by French writer/director Christian Carion, which depicts a singular moment on the Western Front in World War I, when a group of Scottish, French, and German soldiers defied orders and enacted a brief truce to celebrate Christmas together. The story explores the relationships between the soldiers, both across battle lines and within ranks. Puts, a recipient of honors from the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and elsewhere, was commissioned to write the opera—his first—in 2008. The Philadelphia production of Silent Night was conducted by Michael Christie and directed by Tony Award nominee Eric Simonson, and sung in English, German, French, Italian, and Latin, with English subtitles. The cast featured rising young stars including baritones Liam Bonner and Andrew Wilkowske, and bass-baritone Craig Irvin, alongside established performers such as tenor William Burden, soprano Kelly Kaduce, and baritone Troy Cook. In 2012, Puts was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music for his musical composition in Silent Night.