Opera 'Silent Night' [Official Website]


The Telegraph

Silent Night, Opera North/Town Hall, Leeds, review: this fresh and engaging take on war and peace wins battle with Britten
By Rupert Christiansen, December 1, 2018

"Puts’ score, conducted with unfailing assurance by Nicholas Kok, is virile and punchy. It transcends the generic idioms of American opera and doesn’t sound like an unholy mix of Bernstein, Adams and Sondheim: instead it emulates the grander passions of Shostakovich, Poulenc and Janáček, as well as cooking up some skillful pastiche of Mozartian arias, Lutheran chorales and Highland bagpiping. The counterpoint of the three languages is brilliantly handled, rising at times to a thrilling cacophony – but there is delicacy too, as when a haunting harp arpeggio accompanies the monologue of a French officer recording the melancholy list of the day’s casualties as his thoughts wander to his pregnant wife back in Paris."
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Opera Wire

10 Must See Operas For The Summer Season 2018 [U.S Edition]
By Francisco Salazar, April 27, 2018

"Silent Night – Glimmerglass Festival: Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s award-winning masterpiece makes its Glimmerglass debut in a new production by Tomer Zvulun. Nicole Paiement conducts the score, which includes three languages and which will be a rare opportunity for New York audiences to see this modern masterpiece. Performance Dates: July 15-August 23, 2018"
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Winston-Salem Journal | JournalNow

Review: Horror of war, beauty of peace coexist in ‘Silent Night’
By Lynn Felder, October 28, 2017

"It’s these kind of heartfelt stories juxtaposed against the horrors of war that make 'Silent Night' so important and affecting — plus Puts’ gorgeous and expressive score.

There are lovely choral pieces, such as 'Sleep' in Act I. Contemporary dissonance works in the battle scenes, and much of the score is plangent and lyrical.

The music underscores yearning and despair and, ultimately, hope."
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Detroit Free Press

'Silent Night': An opera of war and surprising peace comes to Detroit
By Mark Stryker, November 9, 2016

"Few operas of recent vintage have entered the repertory as swiftly as 'Silent Night'."
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BWW Review: War Is Hell but the Puts-Campbell SILENT NIGHT Is a Wonder in Atlanta
By Richard Sasanow, November 9, 2016

"A modern classic"
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Review: The Atlanta Opera brings grit and realism to its ambitious WWI drama “Silent Night”
By Mark Gresham, November 8, 2016

"Puts’ score uses dissonance and consonance as metaphors for war and peace. His necessarily eclectic music ranges from the warmly luscious, to the emotionally churning, to movingly simple at pivotal moments where it hangs poignantly in air..."
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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Review: Atlanta Opera’s ‘Silent Night’ captures humanity during WWI truce
By Andrew Alexander, November 7, 2016

"Kevin Puts’ score creates a rich sound world, masterfully weaving in the sounds of national anthems, gunfire, drinking songs, exploding shells and Scottish bagpipes to evoke the chaotic and varied soundscape of World War I. His use of the full symphony is always emotionally legible, often lushly melodic and cinematic..."
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Atlanta Daily World

Congressman John Lewis announces $6.4 million in grants to 5th District
By Atlanta Daily World report, December 11, 2015

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
Grant Recipient: Atlanta Opera
Details: To support a new production of “Silent Night” by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell. Based on the film “Joyeux Noel” by Christian Carion, and winner of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. A co-production with Wexford Festival Opera and Glimmerglass Opera, as many as four Atlanta performances will occur at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in the fall of 2016.
Amount: $ 25,000
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The Washington Post

The readers’ guide to lovable new opera
By Anne Midgette, August 16, 2015

Silent Night by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell (2011)
The Manchurian Candidate by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell (2015)
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Opera News

Wexford Festival Opera
By Brian Kellow, February 2015 — Vol. 79, No. 8

Michael Christie, who conducted Silent Night at its world premiere, led the Orchestra of Wexford Festival Opera in a beautifully transparent performance. Puts has a gift for polyphonic writing. In Act I, he seamlessly pulled off the complicated feat of moving back and forth among the French, Scottish and German soldiers. The musical high point was the men’s moving arioso about the need for sleep. Puts doesn’t rise to quite the same heights in Act II, which cries out in spots for a more surprising, less muffled musical exploration of the dramatic situation so deftly laid out by Campbell. (There were welcome flashes of humor in Campbell’s libretto, such as the moment at which the French soldiers, on hearing the Scottish bagpipes, observe that they would rather hear the bombs.)
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Calgary Herald

Review: Calgary Opera presents powerful First World War drama in Silent Night
By Kenneth DeLong, Calgary Herald, November 9, 2014

"It is exactly these elements that one encounters in Silent Night, the much-admired new opera by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell that opened Calgary Opera’s new season Saturday night. Mounted throughout The United States and in Europe, the opera is receiving its Canadian première in Calgary"
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RTÉ Television

The programme visits the Wexford opera festival, October 24, 2014 Watch the video

The Irish Times

‘Optimism in the face of brutality’: a great opera about the Great War
By Michael Dervan, The Irish Times, October 21, 2014

The Wexford-bound Silent Night explores the horror of war through the prism of the unofficial Christmas Eve truce of 1914. Its composer and librettist talk about the making of a Pulitzer Prize winner
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RTÉ Radio 1

Interview with RTÉ Radio Ireland about the upcoming European premiere of Silent Night
Arena (Daily arts and popular culture show), October 6, 2014
Listen to the interview


Opera's 'Silent Night' breathtaking tale of war, people
By Janelle Gelfand, cincinnati.com, July 11, 2014

"It is the first opera by the gifted American composer. One could only marvel at Puts' multi-layered orchestral score, which turned on a dime from battle scenes – a cacophony of dissonances, edgy intervals and machine gun sounds – to moments of serene, lyrical beauty."
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City Beat

Singers Revive Roles for Cincinnati Opera’s ‘Silent Night’
By Anne Arenstein, City Beat, July 9, 2014

"Craig Irvin, Andrew Wilkowske and Gabriel Preisser are enjoying a career arc that any opera singer would kill for. All three performed in the world premiere of Silent Night, an opera that garnered rave reviews, a Pulitzer Prize, a PBS broadcast and subsequent productions, including this weekend’s from the Cincinnati Opera, in which the singers reprise their original roles..."
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D Magazine

Strong Silent Night Has Potential to be Holiday Staple
By Wayne Lee Gay, May 8, 2014

"The opera itself seems a likely candidate for the permanent repertoire. Or to take that even further, perhaps a thoughtful community could make Silent Night a regular Christmas season production and antidote to the banal commercialization of the holiday season."
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The Dallas Morning News

Review: Humanity in the midst of war, at FW Opera Festival
By Scott Cantrell, May 5, 2014

"...Premiered three years ago by Minnesota Opera and winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Kevin Puts’ opera packs an emotional wallop in music both immediately engaging and sophisticated in ways and means."
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Theater Jones

Kevin Puts' breathtaking opera Silent Night has its regional premiere at the strongest Fort Worth Opera festival in memory
By Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, May 5, 2014

"...As an opera, Silent Night has it all—excellently drawn characters, touching and true personal interactions, gorgeous music and taut drama. Originally produced by the Minnesota Opera a few years ago, the score won Puts a Pulitzer Prize. His music is written in a lush, neo-romantic style, seasoned with some minimalism and spiky dissonances exactly when needed. Most importantly, it is a stunning and emotional experience to watch above and beyond its considerable musical beauty."
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Fort Worth Opera Saves the Best For Last in “Silent Night”
By David Weuste, May 4, 2014

"Kevin Puts’s score was both highly cinematic, and extremely versatile. Puts has the orchestra switching stylistic gears between each of the represented countries with ease, combining sweeping emotive lines with light folk music from each culture. The greatly enjoyable score ranged from rousing choruses and highly melodic arias, to points where the soloists simply hold a line and let the orchestra do the brunt of the work, to folk music, bagpipes and a haunting harmonica ending. The vocal demands are at times more Verdian than typical modern arias, and are one of the many reasons why Silent Night could be programmed between any opera in the canon and stand up on its own..."
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch

'Silent Night' tells the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914
By Sarah Bryan Miller, December 21, 2013

"Puts’ musical voice, which has grown impressively since his “River’s Rush” for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s 2004 opening night, is appropriate for each scene, ranging from the tender and lovely to the atonal for battle scenes. Puts deserved the 2012 Pulitzer Prize he won for the score."
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The New York Times

‘Silent Night,’ Pulitzer Winner, to Air on PBS
By Allan Kozinn, November 12, 2013

"“Silent Night,” the opera by Kevin Puts that won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2012, will have its television premiere on Dec. 13, when PBS broadcasts a performance by the Minnesota Opera, recorded during the work’s world-premiere run in 2011."
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The New York Times

Tenors Amid the Turmoil of War in the Trenches
‘Silent Night,’ by Kevin Puts at Opera Philadelphia
By Anthony Tommasini, February 11, 2013

"You can be a brilliant composer with a strong musical voice yet not be suited to opera, an enticing but unwieldy genre. It usually takes someone a few tries to write an effective work. This makes the success that the American composer Kevin Puts, 41, has had with “Silent Night” all the more remarkable. Based on the 2005 French film “Joyeux Noël,” “Silent Night,” Mr. Puts’s first opera, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, played a sold-out premiere run in 2011 at the Minnesota Opera. It went on to win the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for music." Read the full review

Opera News

A Gift of Song
February 2013 — Vol. 77, No. 8

BRIAN KELLOW chats with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, who this month curates a program of song for New York Festival of Song's "NYFOS Next" series. Read the full article


New York Festival of Song Next: Kevin Puts and Friends at BAC
February 12, 2013

"The night ended with Puts accompanying Blumberg and Tappan in selections from his Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night (libretto by Mark Cambpell), which recounts the true story of a spontaneous cease-fire among Scottish, French, and German soldiers during the final Christmas of World War I."
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Opera about truce is a clear victory
By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic, February 12, 2013

"Act II is cut from similar cloth but, with a more spare, expansive manner, dispenses with scene painting and uses atonality to convey the weary directionlessness of soldiers realizing the war has become a voracious, pointless black hole. Here, where the film loses its pace, the opera kicks into high gear as Puts harnesses the insinuative possibilities of music." Read the full review

The Washington Post

The other East Coast opera: Philly offers “Silent Night”
By Anne Midgette, February 10, 2013

"“Silent Night” is the first opera by the composer Kevin Puts, who’s established himself as a contemporary tonalist, writing a kind of 21st century romanaticism in muscular pieces that don’t sound derivative. Sticking to what’s become a template for new American operas, he and the librettist Mark Campbell (the go-to librettist these days; when I wrote about him two years ago he had four new works coming out, and according to his bio he’s currently working on six more) based their work on a movie -- a poignant war movie, no less. “Joyeux Noël,” made in 2005, tells the true story of the Christmas cease-fire in the trenches during World War I, during which soldiers stopped shooting, allowed each other to bury their dead unharmed, and shared Christmas treats -- the latter enhanced, in the opera, by an aria from a passing soprano." Read the full article


Opera Philadelphia's Silent Night a resounding showcase
By Gale Martin, February 10, 2013

"A work crucial to the development and appreciation of opera as a relevant modern art form premièred on the East Coast to well-deserved acclaim at a legendary Philadelphia venue. From the first note out of the pit orchestra to the final strains of the last act, Silent Night, presented by Opera Philadelphia at the Academy of Music, was a tour de force – from conception to execution."
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'Silent Night': A World War I moment of peace
By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic, February 5, 2013

"Based on the 2005 French film Joyeux Noel, Silent Night was headed for the Academy of Music even before its Pulitzer, though Puts, 41, was hardly a proven operatic commodity. Though remarkably successful at an early age (he wrote four symphonies between 1999 and 2007), Puts was offered Silent Night by Minnesota Opera artistic director Dale Johnson, who thought his big-orchestra sensibility would be good for a piece with three armies." Read the full article


Kevin Puts Wins Music Pulitzer For World War I Opera 'Silent Night'
By Tom Huizenga, April 16, 2012

"New York-based composer and Peabody Institute faculty member Kevin Puts has won the Pulitizer Prize for music with Silent Night, his first opera. The work received its world premiere in November in at Minnesota Opera in St. Paul.
Pulitzer officials described Silent Night as "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."" Read the full article

New Music Box

Kevin Puts Wins 2012 Pulitzer Prize
By Frank J. Oteri, April 16, 2012

"Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts by Kevin Puts has been awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera in Minneapolis on November 12, 2011, and featuring a libretto by Mark Campbell, the self-published Silent Night was described by the jury as “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.” The prize is for a “distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States” during the previous calendar year and comes with a cash award of ten thousand dollars." Read the full article

Opera News

Review: "Silent Night"
By Larry Fuchsberg, February 2012 — Vol. 76, No. 8

"The opening night ovation for Silent Night was long and clamorous, the loudest acclaim fittingly reserved for composer Kevin Puts. [It]is Puts first opera and one senses that he's found his metier. (Occasionally, one has the sensation of looking over the composer's shoulder as he discovers the power of his medium.) He's a master polystylist, able to weld together heterogeneous musical materials that range from a pseudo-eighteenth-century-opera-within-the opera to jarring atonality. He writes impressively complex polyphony when it's called for, but is more affecting when his music turns spare and reflective. His timing is unerring. With this remarkable debut, Puts assumes a central place in the American opera firmament. Much will be expected from him." Read the full review

Minnesota Star-Tribune

Opera evokes grim beauty in break in the battle
By Larry Fuchsberg, November 14, 2011

"Grimly beautiful, the piece is a significant addition to the repertoire and heralds the emergence of composer Kevin Puts as a force in American opera…Librettist Mark Campbell's text is terse and cogent; he knows how to convey the essentials and leave the heavy lifting to the composer. Puts seldom relaxes his grip on the listener. There is no emotion his writing cannot conjure. In the course of two hours he integrates an astonishing range of forms and styles. At its best, as in the heartfelt choral lullaby of Act 1 or the shattering funeral march of Act 2, his music is as powerful as any being written today. "Silent Night" is, improbably, Puts' first opera; it shouldn't be his last."
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Opera News

[Features] A Leap of Faith
By Micahel Slade, November 2011 — Vol. 76, No. 5

Minnesota Opera took a chance on composer Kevin Puts, whose first opera, Silent Night, has its world premiere in St. Paul this month. MICHAEL SLADE reports.
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WQXR'S "Operavore"

Silent Night included as one of the Top Ten Opera Moments of 2011
"Perhaps it's unfair to include a production from Minnesota on this New York-centric list for a New York-based radio station, but Minnesota Opera presented one of the most compelling, memorable and poignant new works I've seen in recent years. Libretto and score merged flawlessly...here's hoping that it soon reaches New York-and recording."

Twin Cities Examiner.com

Review: Silent Night derives a universal harmony from our shared humanity
November 13, 2011

"…To fully appreciate this achievement, one must begin with the libretto by Mark Campbell. Adhering closely to Christian Carion’s original screenplay for Joyeux Noël, the librettist focuses on each character’s own distinctive sense of grief, whether expressed as guilt over a fallen brother or the simple craving for one blissful night of uninterrupted sleep. These yearnings are memorably expressed in a verbal mosaic of English, French, German, Italian, and Latin. Yet while each voice is unique, they are united by an empathetic longing.

What really imbues fervor to the production, though, is a landmark score from composer Kevin Puts. Already a widely celebrated talent in the classical world, Silent Night marks Puts’ debut opera. As such, Puts couldn’t make a more stunning first impression, launching into the opening of Act 1 with a wildly spiraling panorama of sound that culminates in an explosive climax. In the aftermath, as fraught silence descends on the battlefield, Puts settles into a suspenseful adagio capable of transitioning swiftly to lavishly layered melodies. No single moment allows more intense poignancy than Act 1’s closing aria wherein [Karin]Wolverton’s emotive register lifts the pathos to heartbreaking heights.

Without succumbing to cloying sentimentality, this latest creation from the Minnesota Opera achingly conveys the powerful resiliency of kindness and mercy even in the trenches of war. As such, Silent Night stands as a heartfelt hymn to our common humanity." Read the full review

Pioneer Press

"An excellent production that should go down as a landmark in the Minnesota Opera's almost half-century history. Puts' rich, transporting score is the foundation for a very moving piece of theater, filled with imaginative design and powerful performances."