The Manchurian Candidate

Music by Kevin Puts. Libretto by Mark Campbell. Based on the novel by Richard Condon. A New Works Initiative production.

The Manchurian Candidate, the second opera from composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, creators of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night, will receive its world premiere in March 2015.

The Manchurian Candidate is a political thriller based on the 1959 novel by Richard Condon about the son of a prominent U.S. political family who is brainwashed into becoming an unwitting sleeper assassin for a Communist conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government. Condon’s novel inspired two film adaptations. The first film, directed by John Frankenheimer in 1962, starred Laurence Harvey Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury, and is widely regarded to be a masterpiece of its genre. Director Jonathan Demme’s 2004 film updated the action to the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and starred Liev Schreiber, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

“I have long wanted to commission an operatic thriller,” said Artistic Director Dale Johnson, “and after the incredible experience of Silent Night in 2011, I was eager to work with Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell again. The Manchurian Candidate is an all-around match made in heaven.”

“That the term ‘Manchurian candidate’ was been bandied about as recently as the last Presidential campaign trail proves there’s an enduring fascination with conspiracy theories of massive proportions,” continued Johnson. “Strong characters and tantalizing drama make for the best operas, and this story has those in spades. When you think about combining those elements with this existing cultural fixation and putting them in the hands of a Pulitzer-winning team, I think we have an incredibly exciting creative process ahead as we move to the premiere of this opera in our 2014–2015 season.”


  • Composed by Kevin Puts

    Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Silent Night, Kevin Puts has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation. His work has been commissioned and performed by leading orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the New York Philharmonic; the Tonhalle Orchestër (Zurich); the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, Utah and St. Louis; the Boston Pops; the Minnesota Orchestra, which commissioned his Sinfonia Concertante; and by leading chamber ensembles such as the Mirò Quartet, the Eroica Trio, eighth blackbird, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

    Puts’ orchestral catalog includes four symphonies as well as several concertos written for some of today’s top soloists. In 2005, Mr. Puts received the tremendous honor of a commission in celebration of David Zinman’s 70th birthday, and the result was Vision, a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra. During the same year, his Percussion Concerto was premiered by Evelyn Glennie with the Pacific and Utah Symphonies. He has also written concertos for marimbist Makoto Nakura, violinist Michael Shih, clarinetist Bil Jackson, and a piano concerto commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and premiered in 2008 by pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane.

    Puts has received awards and grants from the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenehim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, bmi and ascap. He has served as composer-in-residence of Young Concerts Artists, the California Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

    A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Puts received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, his Master’s Degree from Yale University and a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music.

  • Libretto by Mark Campbell

    Mark Campbell is one of the most in-demand librettists working in opera today, recently profiled in Opera News as one of twenty-five people " become major forces in opera in the coming decade." Mark has received many prestigious awards for his work. Most recently, Silent Night with Minnesota Opera was honored with the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. 

  • Directed by Kevin Newbury

    Kevin Newbury is a theater and opera director based in New York City. Recent opera credits include Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux (Minnesota Opera), Die Liebe der Danae (Bard Summerscape), Virginia (Wexford Opera Festival), Life is a Dream and Falstaff (Santa Fe Opera), Eugene Onegin (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Roberto Devereux (L'Opéra de Montréal), El niño (San Francisco Symphony), Hänsel und Gretel (Virginia Opera), Rappahannock County (Virginia Arts Festival, National Tour), La Cenerentola (Glimmerglass Opera) and Bernstein’sMass (Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Grammy nomination). Recent New York theater credits include Candy and Dorothy (GLAAD Media Award Winner, Drama Desk Nominee), The Second Tosca and Kiss and Cry (GLAAD Nominee).

    Upcoming engagements include the world premieres of The Gospel According to Mary Magdelene (San Francisco Opera), Oscar (Santa Fe Opera and Opera Compay of Philadelphia), Doubt (Minnesota Opera), Oceanic Verses (River-to-River Festival/NYC, Barbican/UK) and Fellow Travelers (NYC). Other upcoming projects include Maria Stuarda (Houston Grand Opera), Roméo at Juliette (Palm Beach Opera), Galileo Galilei (Portland Opera), La bohème (Central City Opera),Anna Bolena (Minnesota Opera) and the film Mothra is Waiting.