A Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative Production.
Based on the screenplay for Joyeux Noël by Christian Carion for the motion picture produced by Nord-Ouest Production.
A fascinating true story, Silent Night recounts a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history. On World War I’s western front, weapons are laid down when the Scottish, French and German officers defy their superiors and negotiate a Christmas Eve truce. Enemies become brothers as they come together to share Christmas and bury their dead. Acclaimed tenor William Burden stars as the soldier whose voice inspired peace among adversaries – if only for a day.
Sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin with English translations projected above the stage.
Friday, December 21, 2012, 8pm CST on tpt Channel 2.1
Saturday, December 22, 2012, 2am CST on tpt Channel 2.1
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 3pm CST on tpt Life Channel 2.3
2013 (date tba) on PBS
“Minnesota Opera presented one of the most compelling, memorable and poignant new works I’ve seen in recent years.” WQXR Radio (New York)
"... a tremendously rewarding work, given an excellent production that should go down as a landmark in the Minnesota Opera's almost half-century history." Pioneer Press
"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." Star Tribune
“Silent Night stands as a heartfelt hymn to our common humanity." Examiner.com
Prologue Late summer, 1914
War is declared. At a Berlin opera house, the announcement disrupts the careers and personal lives of international opera singers Anna Sørensen and Nikolaus Sprink. In a small church in Scotland, it inspires dreams of heroism in William who demands that his younger brother Jonathan immediately enlist with him, as their priest, Father Palmer, looks helplessly on. In the Parisian apartment of the Audeberts, it angers Madeleine who excoriates her husband for leaving to fight while she is pregnant with their first child. With nationalistic songs in the background, the men prepare to leave for war.
In and around a battlefield in Belgium, near the French border, around Christmas
Scene one – December 23, late afternoon A horrific battle is fought between the Germans and the French and Scottish. An attempt by the French and Scottish soldiers to infiltrate the German bunker fails miserably; corpses begin to pile up in the no-man’s land between the three bunkers. When William is shot, Jonathan must leave his brother behind to die.
Scene two – December 23, evening In the Scottish bunker, Lieutenant Gordon assesses the casualties after the battle. Father Palmer attempts to offer solace to Jonathan in prayer.
In the French bunker, Lieutenant Audebert discovers the French General waiting in his makeshift office who reprimands him for surrendering and threatens him with a transfer. The General leaves and Audebert laments the loss of his wife’s photograph to his aide de camp, Ponchel. When he is alone Audebert tallies the casualties in the last battle, while missing Madeleine and their child who he has not yet seen. He sings of needing sleep, a sentiment echoed by all of the soldiers. As it starts to snow, covering the corpses in no-man’s land, the soldiers slowly begin to sleep. Alone in the German bunker, Nikolaus, reveals to an imagined Anna his despair about war.
Scene three – December 24, morning In the German bunker, crates have arrived – and little Christmas trees from the Kronprinz. Lieutenant Horstmayer criticizes the Kronprinz for not sending them more useful presents, like ammunition and reinforcements. He receives a directive from headquarters that Nikolaus has been ordered to sing at the nearby chalet of the Kronprinz, along with one Anna Sørensen. Nikolaus departs for the chalet, excited that he will be reunited with Anna again after many months apart.
The French soldiers have received crates of wine, sausages and chocolates from the quartermaster and open them jubilantly. Ponchel, a barber by trade, brings coffee to Audebert and sits him down for a haircut. He is reminded of having coffee with his mother every morning, who lives only an hour away on foot. The alarm clock he carries next to his heart at all times (which shielded him from a bullet in the last battle) rings at ten o’clock every morning to remind him of their daily meeting.
In the Scottish bunker, crates of whiskey have arrived from home. Jonathan writes a letter to his mother, not mentioning his brother’s death.
Scene four – December 24, early evening At the chalet of the Kronprinz, Anna and Nikolaus perform a duet. Following the performance, they steal a few moments on a terrace outside. Anna notices the cruel effect war has had on her lover’s spirit. She has arranged for Nikolaus to spend the night with her and is angry when he says he must return to his fellow soldiers. She vows to accompany him back to the battlefield.
Scene five – December 24, night In the French bunker, Gueusselin volunteers to infiltrate the German bunker, and with several grenades, sidles onto no-man’s land. The Scottish soldiers drink whiskey and play a bagpipe that another unit has sent them, as Father Palmer sings a sentimental ballad about home. The men in the other bunkers hear the song and react to it with sadness, caution and annoyance. Nikolaus arrives; his fellow soldiers greet him with cheers and applause and gasp in amazement at seeing Anna with him. When the song in the Scottish bunker is finished, Nikolaus sings a rousing Christmas song loudly in response and midway through, the bagpiper begins to accompany. Emboldened, Nikolaus stands atop the bunker raising a Christmas tree as a gesture of friendship. Against the protestations of their superiors, the soldiers from all bunkers stand. Nikolaus bravely moves to the center of no-man’s land. Gueusselin abandons his plan to grenade the German bunker.
Eventually, the three lieutenants, waving a white flag of truce, agree to a cease-fire … but only on Christmas Eve. The soldiers slowly and cautiously move toward each other. They share their provisions, their photos and their names. Anna appears and all of the soldiers are awed by the sight of a woman. Father Palmer has set up a makeshift church and celebrates mass with the men, while Jonathan finds his brother’s body and vows revenge. Father Palmer finishes the mass and urges the men to “go in peace” as bombs explode menacingly in the distance.
Scene one – December 25, dawn The following morning, Jonathan tries to bury his brother. Because the truce is officially over, two German sentries are prepared to shoot him, although Father Palmer and Lieutenant Gordon intervene. Looking on, Horstmayer proposes that it may indeed be time to bury all of the dead. The three lieutenants meet and decide that coffee that the truce will be extended until after the dead in no-man’s land are buried.
Scene two – December 25, late morning, early afternoon The soldiers pile up the corpses, Father Palmer delivers last rites and the soldiers form a processional bearing the wagon of bodies away. Anna looks on with Nikolaus and promises that he will not suffer the same fate.
Scene three – December 25, all day In the meantime, news of the cease-fire has reached headquarters, and the British Major, the Kronprinz and the French General all react in anger and disbelief. They declare that they will punish the soldiers for their betrayal.
Scene four – December 25, evening When the truce is over, Nikolaus ridicules Horstmayer for his allegiance to the Fatherland; Horstmayer arrests him for insubordination. Anna takes Nikokaus' hand and leads him across no-man’s land as Horstmayer orders his men to shoot, but no one moves. Reaching the French bunker unharmed, Nikolaus demands asylum for Anna and himself.
Scene five – December 26, late morning The British Major admonishes the Scottish soldiers for participating in the Christmas truce. They are to be transferred to the front lines. When a German soldier is seen crossing the battlefield, the Major orders him killed. Jonathan complies and dispassionately shoots the man.
Lieutenant Audebert returns to his small office and discovers the French General there. The General tells Audebert that he will be transferred to Verdun as punishment for consorting with the enemy and that his unit will be disbanded. Audebert informs the French General – his father – that he has learned he has an infant son named Henri. They vow to survive the war for the child’s sake.
The Kronprinz angrily announces that the German soldiers are to be deployed in Pomerania as punishment. The soldiers are taken off in a boxcar. The battlefield is now completely empty. Snow begins to fall again.
Cast and Crew
stage director and dramaturg
THE GERMAN SIDE
Nikolaus Sprink, an opera singer
Anna Sørensen, his lover
Kronprinz, son of Kaiser Wilhelm II
A. J. Glueckert
THE SCOTTISH SIDE
John Robert Lindsey
William Dale, his brother
The British Major
THE FRENCH SIDE
Ponchel, his aide-de-camp
Madeleine, Lt. Audebert's wife
German, Scottish and French soldiers
Joseph Beutel (the British Major)
Bass Joseph Beutel joins Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist program after spending the summer as a Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist, where he covered Méphistophélès in Faust and the Catholic Priest in The Last Savage. Previous roles have included the Impresario/Direttore in the young artist production of Viva La Mamma! at Seattle Opera; Benoit and Alcindoro in La bohème for South Texas Lyric Opera; Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Mustafà in L’italiana in Algeri, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Le Roi in Cendrillon and Herr Reich in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor for IU Opera Theatre; and the Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance for Western Michigan University.
Mr. Beutel was a district finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2011 and a Palm Beach Opera Competition Encouragement Award recipient in 2010 and 2011. For Minnesota Opera this season, he will appear as the British Major in Silent Night, Le Bailli in Werther, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Bonze in Madame Butterfly.
Liam Bonner (Audebert)
Praised by Opera News for his “rich, versatile voice” and “beautiful instrument,” rising baritone Liam Bonner will sing the role of Lieutenant Audebert in the world premiere of Silent Night at Minnesota Opera in the 2011–2012 season. He will also debut at Los Angeles Opera as Sid in Albert Herring under James Conlon and at Palm Beach Opera in its Golden Jubilee: 50th Anniversary Concert singing excerpts from Die Fledermaus,I pagliacci, Le nozze di Figaro and Don Pasquale. He will also return to the Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. Future seasons will see Mr. Bonner at Houston Grand Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Washington National Opera.
Last season, Mr. Bonner sang his first performances of Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in a new production by David Alden, a role which he also covered at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as the role of Raimbaud in the new production of Le Comte Ory. He also sang his first performances of Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with New Orleans Opera, Ned Keene in Peter Grimes in a return to Houston Grand Opera, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Ash Lawn Opera Festival and Valentin in Faust with North Carolina Opera.
In recent seasons, he made his Washington National Opera debut as the title role in Hamlet to great acclaim, returned to Houston Grand Opera for Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Moralès in Carmen. Mr. Bonner was also seen at the Metropolitan Opera as Horatio in Hamlet in the worldwide HD broadcast. He sang his first performances of Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Opera New Jersey and Der Geliebte von Gestern in Weill’s Royal Palace at the Bard Music Festival. He also made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen as an alumnus guest artist with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic.
Mr. Bonner made his European operatic debut as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at English National Opera. He maintains a strong relationship with Houston Grand Opera, where he has sung numerous roles that include Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Redburn in Billy Budd, the baritone soloist in Theofanidis’s The Refuge (a recording of which is available commercially on the Albany Records label), Harašta in The Cunning Little Vixen, the Witch in Basil Twist’s production of Hänsel und Gretel, and both Moralès and El Dancaïro in Carmen. He joined Wolf Trap Opera for Il Cavaliere di Befiore in Verdi’s Un giorno di Regno and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Berkshire Opera for the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Aspen Opera Theatre for Sid in Albert Herring and L'Opéra de Québec for its annual opera gala concert.
The baritone has appeared with the Houston Ballet as soloist in Stravinsky’s Les Noces and in Orff’s Carmina Burana at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. He has also joined the Pittsburgh Symphony for highlights from Mozart’s operas and the Filharmonie Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic for a concert of opera favorites.
He earned his Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music where he sang his first performances of the title role of Don Giovanni as well as Belaev in Hoiby’s A Month in the Country (also on the Albany Records label). He also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in his home city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additionally, Mr. Bonner is a former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, as well as San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and Studio and Apprentice Artist at Central City Opera. He is the recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshanna Foundation, a first-prize winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition, a national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and an award winner from the George London Foundation and Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition.
William Burden (Nikolaus)
American tenor William Burden has won an outstanding reputation in a wide-ranging repertoire throughout Europe and North America.
He has appeared in many prestigious opera houses in the United States and Europe, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Minnesota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Théâtre du Châtelet, Bayerische Staatsoper, Berliner Staatsoper, Madrid's Teatro Real and the Saito Kinen Festival. His many roles include the title roles of Faust, Pelléas et Mélisande, The Rake's Progress, Roméo et Juliette, Béatrice and Bénédict, Candide and Acis and Galatea; Captain Vere in Billy Budd, Don José in Carmen, Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore, Pylade in Iphigénie en Tauride, Narraboth in Salome, Gérald in Lakmé, Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Ferrando in Così fan tutte and Aschenbach in Death in Venice. He also created the role of Gilbert Griffiths in Picker's An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera, and the role of Dodge in Daron Hagen's Amelia at the Seattle Opera.
In concert, Mr. Burden has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and with Les Arts Florissants at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Barcelona and Lyon. He recently made his Edinburgh Festival debut as the title role in Judas Maccabeus, conducted by William Christie.
Mr. Burden's recordings include Barber's Vanessa (Anatol) with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the Chandos label and Musique adorable: The Songs of Emmanuel Chabrier for the Hyperion label.
Last season Mr. Burden made his debuts at the Los Angeles Opera as Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw and the New Orleans Opera as Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles. He also returns to the Seattle Opera for Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and to the Opera Company of Philadelphia for the American premiere of Henze's Phaedra.
The season, Mr. Burden makes his debuts at the Canadian Opera Company as Jupiter in Semele and the San Francisco Symphony in performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and returns to the Seattle Opera as the title role in Orphée et Euriydice. He also appears in two world premieres: Christopher Theonidis’ Heart of a Soldier at the San Francisco Opera and Kevin Puts’ Silent Night and the Minnesota Opera
Raised in Florida, Mr. Burden received his master's degree in vocal performance at Indiana University. He was also a member of the Merola Program in San Francisco and at the Apprentice Artists Program at the Santa Fe Opera.
Michael Christie (conductor)
Michael Christie became the Virginia G. Piper Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony in August 2005 and Music Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic from September 2005 to 2010. With his orchestras, he has embarked on a series of ambitious projects focusing on interdisciplinary collaborations with visual artists, dance companies, and theater groups, as well as contemporary composers such as Gorecki, Ligeti, Adams, Golijov, and Tan Dun. He is also Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival, where he has been much praised for his innovative programming and where festival audiences are at an all-time high and growing in each of his twelve seasons in Boulder. His relationship with the Colorado Music Festival was recently extended to the 2016 season.
Over his sixteen year career, he has conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony, among many others. Christie made his New York Philharmonic debut in March 2007, stepping in for an ailing Riccardo Muti.
Michael Christie has also established an excellent reputation as an opera conductor, starting with his operatic and ballet performances at the Opernhaus Zürich. That special relationship began in the 1997-1998 season and continued for many seasons with his highly successful debut conducting performances of Romeo and Juliet and a new production of Hansel and Gretel. Most recently, extraordinary critical response has surrounded his Opera Theatre of St. Louis productions of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer and his Minnesota Opera productions of Verdi’s La traviata and Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights.
Coming operatic work includes the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Minnesota Opera and the North American premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Mr. Christie has also worked at the Wexford Festival Opera conducting the European premiere of Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. This production, a collaborative effort with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and directed by James Robinson, won the 2010 Irish Times Irish Theatre Award for Best Opera. He conducted the opera again at the Aspen Music Festival in August 2010.
Michael Christie earlier worked with the Finnish National Opera, where he conducted The Marriage of Figaro in 1999-2000, and with the Queensland Opera where he made his debut conducting Cosi fan tutte the same season. In March 2004, he made his highly successful opera debut in The Netherlands conducting John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer with the Rotterdam Philharmonic.
In Europe his career has been equally successful, with past engagements including the DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish Radio Symphony, Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. His ties to orchestras in Scandinavia have been particularly strong with engagements in all five countries.
Mr. Christie enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where aside from his role as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (which ended in December 2004), he has also conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.
Michael Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize for “Outstanding Potential” at the First International Sibelius Conductors' Competition in Helsinki. Following the competition, he was invited to become an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and subsequently worked with Daniel Barenboim in Chicago and at the Berlin State Opera during the 1996-1997 season.
Michael graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance. He is married to Alexis, a physician, and they have a daughter, Sinclair, born in 2008.
Troy Cook (Father Palmer)
American baritone Troy Cook recently debuted both the Hamburgische Staatsoper as Marcello in La bohème, where he also performed his first Ford in Falstaff in the spring of 2010, and the Royal Opera – Covent Garden as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte.
Troy Cook's 2011–2012 season includes appearances with Minnesota Opera, as Father Palmer in the world premiere of Silent Night; the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra as Marcello in La bohème; Opera Company of Philadelphia as Lescaut in Manon Lescaut; the Winston-Salem Symphony, for performances of Carmina burana; and Central City Opera, as Marcello. Additionally, he joins Opera Rara for a recording of Donizetti's Caterina Cornaro.
In the 2010–2011 season, Mr. Cook returned to Lyric Opera of Kansas City as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, sang his first Escamillo in Carmen at Green Mountain Opera Festival and appeared on the concert stage in performances of the Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Pacific Symphony and the Arizona Musicfest, the St. John Passion with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and Handel’s Messiah with the Winston-Salem Symphony.
Future seasons will find him in multiple leading roles with Opera Company of Philadelphia.
He returned to Opera Company of Philadelphia as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly to open the 2009–2010 season, appeared in Bilbao for Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias and was recently seen in Santander and Bilbao for Il viaggio a Rheims. He also performed concerts with the Portland Symphony and the Arizona Musicfest and was Albert in Kentucky Opera’s Werther. The 2009–2010 season also included Marcello in Florida Grand Opera’s new production of La bohème and just prior he was Enrico in Las Palmas’ Lucia di Lammermoor.
Troy Cook opened 2007–2008 as Zurga with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Just prior, he sang in a gala concert with Opera Pacific, as Marcello in La bohème with Berkshire Opera and performed Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Opera Omaha. The year 2007 began with his German debut with the Semperoper Dresden as Marcello, and he also performed Marcello in his Opera Company of Philadelphia debut to open their season. In addition, he returned to the American Ballet Theater in New York and Washington D.C. for the Kindertotenlieder. In 2006 he was Sharpless for Berkshire Opera and debuted with La Monnaie, Brussels in a gala concert of I pagliacci. In spring 2006, he performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a world premiere conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; bowed as Enrico in Kansas City’s Lucia di Lammermoor; appeared as a soloist in Carmina burana with the San Antonio Symphony and performed Zurga with Opera Carolina. He also sang in a Richard Tucker Foundation concert in New York City. In 2004–2005, he returned to San Francisco Opera as Mr. Flint in Billy Budd. Reviews of his Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia the previous season at San Francisco Opera included: “Baritone Troy Cook is spectacular in the role of Figaro. He’s insolent, charming, self-amused, a rogue … his patter and roulades are precise and ring out fearlessly.”
Other recent appearances include Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Fort Worth Opera, Guglielmo with Santa Fe Opera and Toledo Opera, solo recitals under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation and Carmina burana with the American Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center. Mr. Cook also appeared with the Metropolitan Opera in L’enfant et les sortilèges and in a new production of Sly in 2001. In the fall of 2000, he made his European debut as Giacomo in Beatrix Cenci with the Grand Théâtre de Genève followed by Schaunard in La bohème and Morales in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. Other engagements included productions of Barbiere with Florida Grand Opera and Minnesota Opera.
Troy Cook made his New York City Opera debut in the 1999–2000 season with roles in the trilogy, Central Park, which he also sang with Glimmerglass Opera. Those performances were taped and later telecast on the PBS series Great Performances. He was a member of the Apprentice Artist Program of the Santa Fe Opera, the Florida Grand Opera Studio and holds a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has studied voice with Bill Schuman.
Marcus Dilliard (lighting designer)
Marcus Dilliard has designed for opera, theater and dance across North America and in Europe, including numerous productions for Minnesota Opera, the Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theater Company, Minnesota Dance Theater and Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Recent designs include God of Carnage for the Guthrie Theater, Norma for Lyric Opera Kansas City, Song of Extinction for Theater Latte Da, All Is Calm at the Pantages Theater and An Ideal Husband for Great Lakes Theater Festival. Upcoming projects include Così fan tutte for Lyric Opera Kansas City, Charlie’s Aunt for the Guthrie Theater, Cinderella for the Ordway Music Theater and Julius by Design for Penumbra Theater.
A. J. Glueckert (Kronprinz)
Tenor A. J. Glueckert begins his first season as a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist singing Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Kronprinz in Silent Night. Previously, he has been seen as Dr. Caius in Falstaff at Utah Opera where he was a resident artist last yearand the Simpleton in Boris Godunov at Utah Festival Opera. Other roles include the Tambor-Major in Wozzeck and Sextus in Harrison’s Young Caesar for Ensemble Parallèlle, Wolfram in Les contes d’Hoffmann for Santa Fe Opera, where he was an Apprentice Artist, Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor for San Francisco Lyric Opera, El Remendado in Carmen for Festival Opera of Walnut Creek and Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music for SFCM Musical Theater Ensemble.
Mr. Glueckert performed a number of roles at his alma mater, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Cuban tenor Cesar Ulloa, including Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Dema in Cavalli’s L’Egisto, the title role in Orpheus in the Underworld, Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and Don Basilio/Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. He is a first place winner of the YES Stewart Brady Competition. At the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, A. J. won an encouragement award in 2009 and district competitions in 2010 and 2011. He received the encouragement award in the 2010 regional auditions and will compete this January in the 2012 regionals.
Andrzej Goulding (video/projection designer)
Andrzej Goulding trained in set and costume design on the theatre design course at Central Saint Martins in London.
Video designs include:Orlando (Glasgow Opera House, Festival Theatre Edinburgh), Enlightenment (Hampstead Theatre), Fried Rice Paradise (Esplanade Theatre, Singapore), Ghost the Musical (Workshop), The Last Witch (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), The Pros, The Cons and a Screw (Derby Theatre), The Snow Queen (Derby Theatre), Pinnochio (Royal and Derngate), 101 Dalmations (Royal and Derngate), Speed the Plow (Old Vic Theatre), Humble Boy (Royal and Derngate), Street Scene (Young Vic, Tour), Varjak Paw (Linbury Studio, Tour), The Wizard of Oz (Royal and Derngate), The Real Thing (Salisbury Playhouse) and Feather Boy (National Theatre Studio).
Animation work:Ghost the Musical (Manchester Opera House, Piccadilly Theatre), Love Never Dies (Adelphi Theatre), The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium) and Alice in Wonderland (Royal Opera House London).
Assistant/associate set design:Ghost the Musical (2011), Matilda the Musical (RSC, Courtyard Theatre), The Lord of the Rings (Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto), The Lord of the Rings (Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London), Boeing Boeing (Comedy Theatre), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Vaudeville Theatre), The Reporter (National Theatre), Buried Child (National Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Almeida Theatre), French and Saunders Tour 2008, The Vortex (Manchester Royal Exchange), Into the Woods (Royal Opera House), Hedda Gabler (Gate Theatre), Under a Blue Sky (Duke of York), Dorian Gray (Sadlers Wells, Tour), Her Naked Skin (National Theatre), Norman Conquests (Old Vic), Carmen (Metropolitan), Complicit (Old Vic) and Little Voice (Vaudeville Theatre).
Production Designer:Applause (Cannes 2008)
Craig Irvin (Lieutenant Horstmayer)
Bass-baritone Craig Irvin brings a vibrant sound and commitment to character to each role he portrays. Recently in residence with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center, his assignments included Zuniga in Carmen, Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sam in A Masked Ball and Ashby in La fanciulla del West. Additionally, he will cover the roles of Bottom, the title role in The Mikado, the title role in Hercules and Escamillo (a role which he sings in the student matinee performance).
This summer, and the 2011–2012 season, Mr. Irvin will make role and company debut with Wolf Trap Opera as the Villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann, with Minnesota Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia in the premiere of Kevin Puts' new opera Silent Night and with Cleveland Orchestra in Salome. Additional upcoming engagements include Nashville Opera in his reprisal of the role of Ashby in La fanciulla del West as well as joining the roster of Los Angeles Opera covering the role of Paolo in Simon Boccanegra.
Mr. Irvin recently sang the Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly and the Doctor/Professor in Lulu as well as Ramfis in Aida with Pensacola Opera. In the 2009–2010 season, he returned for a second year with Lyric Opera of Chicago where his assignments included Angelotti in Toscaas well as covering the roles of Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaroand Brander in Berlioz’s La damnation of Faust. Additionally he was seen with Knoxville Opera as Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia and as a soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra.
Other recent engagements include an appearance with Intermountain opera as Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Naples Opera as Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and with Des Moines Metro Opera as Bottom in their production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A winner of the Heinz Rehfuss Singing Actor Award sponsored by Orlando Opera, Mr. Irvin spent a season with the company as a Resident Artist, and then stayed on with the company a second year as a mainstage artist. During his tenure there he was seen featured as the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance, Abimelech in Samson et Dalilah, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Elder Ott in Susannah and Angelotti in Tosca. While in Orlando, Mr. Irvin also sang the role of Gaston in over 700 performance of Beauty and the Beast at Walt Disney World, MGM.
Other role highlights include Private Willis in Iolanthe with Nashville Opera and Don Alhambra in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers with Opera North. In the course of his graduate work at The University of Tennessee he has been seen with Knoxville Opera Company as Pooh Bah in The Mikado, Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte and Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, as well as Reverend Blitch in Susannah and the title role in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with the Knoxville Opera Studio. A native of Iowa, Mr. Irvin did his undergraduate study at the Simpson College in Indianola under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Larsen.
Kärin Kopischke (costume designer)
Kärin Kopischke’s costume designs for opera have been seen across the country, including Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Utah Opera. Kärin has also designed costumes for Regional Theatre Tony Award-winners American Conservatory Theater, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Long Wharf, Victory Gardens, Children’s Theatre Company, Crossroads, Cincinnati Playhouse and Chicago Shakespeare. She is a recipient of the Joseph Jefferson Award, the AriZoni Award and was nominated for the Prague Quadrennial. Ms. Kopischke has worked with award-winning directors John Rando, Anna Shapiro, Douglas Hughes, Anna Deavere Smith, Eric Simonson and Joe Chaikin, and has taught costume design at Northwestern, DePaul and Carroll universities. She lives in the woods of Door County, Wisconsin with her family Alan, Anya and Simon, and is currently designing costumes for a feature film being shot there.
John Robert Lindsey (Jonathan Dale)
Colorado native tenor John Robert Lindsey is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he earned his MM in vocal performance under the tutelage of Julie Simson. Past engagements include the Tenor Soloist in the Messiah by Handel, Sam Polk in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, the Stage Manager in Ned Rorem's Our Town by Rorem and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. Mr. Lindsey was met with numerous successes in competitions in the recent past. He was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the past two years, as well as taking third place in 2010 and first place in 2011 at the prestigious Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition.
For Minnesota Opera’s 2011–2012 season, Mr. Lindsey will appear as Jonathan Dale in Silent Night, Schmidt in Werther, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor and Goro in Madame Butterfly.
Angela Mortellaro (Madeleine)
Soprano Angela Mortellaro returns to the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist program for a second season, singing the roles of Despina in Così fan tutte, Madeleine in Silent Night, Sophie in Werther, the title role in the second cast of Lucia di Lammermoor and Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly. Last season, she was seen as Amore in Orpheus and Eurydice, Clorinda in Cinderella and Annina in La traviata. Ms. Mortellaro has sung the role of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with both PORTOpera and Sarasota Opera. She was a Caramoor Opera Bel Canto Young Artist and a Chautauqua Opera Apprentice Artist, where she sang Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and Anna Gomez in The Consul. For Orlando Opera Company, she sang Sister Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Sally in Die Fledermaus and Clorinda in La Cenerentola. The soprano also appeared as Clorinda for Aspen Opera Theatre as well as Frasquita in its production of Carmen. Internationally, she has performed Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for Operafestival di Roma.
Ms. Mortellaro has a master of music degree in vocal performance from Rice University (Houston, Texas), where she sang Diana in La Calisto, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Sandrina in La finta giardiniera and the Governess in The Turn of the Screw. She completed her bachelor of music degree at the University of Wisconsin (Whitewater).
Michael Nyby (William Dale)
A native of Hamilton, Ontario, baritone Michael Nyby holds a bachelor’s degree in voice performance from Ithaca College, where he was a student of Randie Blooding and a Master’s in Opera from the University of British Columbia, where he studied with Peter Barcza. He made his operatic debut in 2002 with the Ithaca Opera Company, and his Canadian professional debut in 2007 with the Burnaby Lyric Opera. He has performed with the Vancouver Opera, the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Santa Fe Opera, Minnesota Opera and the Duluth Festival Opera. Michael was a member of the 2007–2008 Vancouver Opera in Schools touring ensemble with whom he sang 138 performances of Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. He has participated in artist development programs such as the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program, the Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program and the Vancouver Opera Young Artist Coaching Intensive. He sang the role of Lord Cecil in Maria Stuarda for Minnesota Opera’s main stage season during the 2010–2011 season and was recently singled out in The New York Times for his "standout performance as the shepherd Leuthold" in Caramoor’s Guillaume Tell. The Toronto resident looks forward to Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Vancouver Opera’s 2011–1012 season, where he will also be featured in Roméo et Juliette.
Francis O'Connor (set designer)
Opera: Der fliegende Holländer (Bern, Switzerland); Maria di Rohan (Buxton Festival Opera); Il turco in Italia (Garsington Opera); Benzin (Chemnitz, Germany); Wut (Bern, Switzerland); Luisa Miller, Lucrezia Borgia, Roberto Devereux (Buxton Festival Opera); Manon, The Adventures of Pinocchio (Opera North, Oper Chemnitz and Minnesota Opera – nominated for a Faust Award for his design); Capriccio, La Fanciulla del West, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, South Pacific and Iolanthe (Grange Park Opera); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mirandolina, Ariadne, Don Pasquale (Garsington Opera); La traviata (English National Opera); Der Vogelhändler (Komische, Berlin); Maometto II (Strasbourg); Don Pasquale (Geneva).
Francis trained at Wimbledon School of Art.
Gabriel Preisser (Lieutenant Gordon)
Praised for his power and presence both as a singer and an actor by the Houston Chronicle, baritone Gabriel Preisser originally hails from the small town of Apopka, Florida. He earned a double major in music at Florida State University and a Master of Music at the University of Houston. At the Moores Opera Center in Houston, he performed such roles as Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas, Tom Joad in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath, Larry Foreman in The Cradle Will Rock and the title role of both Don Giovanni and Elmer Gantry. At FSU he was seen as Pooh-bah in The Mikado, Death in Savitri, Achille in Giulio Cesar and Masetto in Don Giovanni. Recently, Opera News applauded him for a beautifully sung and beautifully portrayed Yamadori from this past fall in Kentucky Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly. Gabriel has also been seen as the title role of Il barbiere di Siviglia with Owensboro Symphony, John Brooke in Mark Adamo’s Little Women with Pensacola Opera, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with the Intermezzo Program, Prince Ottokar in Der Freischütz with Des Moines Metro Opera and Jason from Grand Night for Singing with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, to name a few. Gabriel’s concert work includes composers such as Handel, Lully, Vivaldi, Bach, Schütz and Mozart with companies such as Ars Lyrica, Mercury Baroque and Houston Bach Choir, and he was honored as a regional finalist in the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition.
This past summer, Mr. Preisser took on the role of Danilo in The Merry Widow and revisited Masetto in Don Giovanni at Utah Festival Opera. For Minnesota Opera’s 2011–2012 season, he sings Lieutenant Gordon in Silent Night, Albert in Werther and Prince Yamadori in Madame Butterfly.
Eric Simonson (stage director and dramaturg)
Writer and director Eric Simonson recently directed Wuthering Heights for Minnesota Opera and Rusalka for Colorado Opera. Other directing credits include The Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Hall; numerous plays for Steppenwolf Theatre; and productions at The Huntington Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Primary Stages in New York, Court Theatre in Chicago, L.A. Theatre Works, The Kennedy Center, City Theater in Pittsburgh, Seattle Rep and San Jose Rep. His production of The Song of Jacob Zulu played on Broadway and received six Tony Awards including Best Director. His film directing credits include the documentaries A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin (Academy Award), On Tiptoe (Academy Award nomination) and Studs Terkel: Listening to America, all of which aired on HBO (Emmy Nomination). Playwriting credits include Lombardi (recently on Broadway), Bang the Drum Slowly, Work Song (co-written with Jeff Hatcher), Honest and Fake. Mr. Simonson is a member of Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, and unions SDC, WGA and SAG. He is the recipient of the Princess Grace Statue Award for sustained artistic achievement; a Jefferson Citation; and the Frankel Award for new play development.
Ben Wager (the French General)
Ben Wager is a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where his roles included: Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Enrico in Anna Bolena, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and Padre Guardiano in La forza del destino.
Mr. Wager's 2011–2012 season includes dual appearances at Minnesota Opera, as General Audebert in the world premiere of Silent Night, and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Additionally, he debuts with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Jacques Lacombe for a series of concerts, returns to the Oregon Symphony as the bass soloist in Haydn's The Creation under the baton of Carlos Kalmar and makes his debut with Opera Boston as Capellio in I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Future seasons will include a return to Opera Company of Philadelphia and a new production with Kentucky Opera.
During the 2010–2011 season, Ben Wager maintained a presence in both North American and European opera houses. In the United States, he made debuts with Opera Cleveland as Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles and the Dallas Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni and returned to Minnesota Opera for the role of Hindley Earnshaw in Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights. As a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which he joined in 2009, he sang Panthus in Les Troyens, Doctor Grenvil in La traviata, Angelotti in Tosca and Escamillo in Carmen, among other roles.
For the 2009–2010 season, Mr. Wager’s assignments at the Deutsche Oper included Zuniga in Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca, and Sarastro in an abridged version of Die Zauberflöte. Additional engagements for the season included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Mozarteum of Salzburg under Ivor Bolton, Rossini’s Stabat mater with the Oregon Symphony led by Carlos Kalmar and his debut with the Los Angeles Opera as Julian Pinelli in Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten.
During the 2008–2009 season, he concluded his residency at the Academy of Vocal Arts as Enrico in Anna Bolena, Il Vescovo in La fiamma and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, joined Minnesota Opera to sing the bass roles in the North American premiere of Jonathan Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio and made his debut at Opera Company of Philadelphia as Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia.
Mr. Wager spent the summer of 2008 as a member of the prestigious Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, where he sang the role of Il Commendatore in Catherine Malfitano’s production of Don Giovanni.
Other notable engagements include: Masetto in Don Giovanni for his debut at Chicago Opera Theater, under the baton of Jane Glover; Monterone in Rigoletto and Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte with Opera New Jersey; and appearances as Kaspar in Der Freischütz, Gremin and Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia and the bass soloist in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Academy of Vocal Arts.
Ben Wager studies with world-renowned voice teacher Bill Schuman.
Andrew Wilkowske (Ponchel)
Andrew Wilkowske – when singing a “virile, sturdy Marcello” or a “garrulous yet endearing” Papageno – displays an engaging combination of musical talent and masterful stage presence. Wilkowske, whose voice has beendescribed as “nimble,” with an “impressively open top,” is one of the most versatile performers on the stage today. A gifted actor as well as singer, Wilkowske's recent performance in The Emperor of Atlantis with Boston Lyric Opera "hit the mark dead center, capturing both the absurd performance art of political demagoguery and the primal human bewilderment in the face of death, " according to Opera News.
This season he returns to Skylight Opera Theatre for the world premiere of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals, playing the role of Prussian Mercenary Baron von Hakenbock. He will also create the role of Ponchel in the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ and Mark Campbell’s Silent Night at Minnesota Opera. Later this season, Wilkowske will debut as Belcore in L'elisir d'amore with Utah Opera and and returns to Minnesota Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.
Widely known for his expertise in modern repertoire, Wilkowske recently premiered Our Basic Nature, a solo New Music Theater piece by John Glover and Kelley Rourke with American Opera Projects and Nautilus Music Theater. He also recently reprised the role of Noah in The Grapes of Wrath with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall. As a member of the Minnesota Opera world premiere cast in 2007, he was featured on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show and the complete recording of the opera available on P.S. Classics. In addition, he recently covered the role of Casanova in Minnesota Opera’s 25th Anniversary production of Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming, sang the role of Geppetto in Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio and Henry Kissinger in Nixon in China with Minnesota Opera; and sang in performances of the North American premiere of Howard Shore’s The Fly at Los Angeles Opera, conducted by Plácido Domingo.
Other recent engagements include Carmina burana with the Minnesota Orchestra, under the baton of Osmo Vänksä; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera on the James; Bummerli in The Chocolate Soldier with Bard Summerscape; Emperor Overall in the critically acclaimed production of The Emperor of Atlantis with Boston Lyric Opera; and Dandini in La Cenerentola with Minnesota Opera. Wilkowske’s experiences are documented in his award-winning “A Year of Figaro” blog.
Active on the musical theatre stage, Wilkowske’s performance in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was called “chilling” and “deeply moving” by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and his performance in the world premiere of Sleeping Beauty with the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati earned him a nomination for a Cincinnati Entertainment Award.
Wilkowske has participated in the Merola Opera Program, Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artist Program and the Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Karin Wolverton (Anna)
Soprano Karin Wolverton has been described by Opera News “a young soprano to watch”, having “a lovely warm tone, easy agility and winning musicality.” In 2010–2011, Karin joined the Dayton Philharmonic for their gala performance of Viva Italia!, sang the role of Pamina with the Minnesota Orchestra in Die Zauberflöte and performed Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Omaha. Future engagements include the world premiere of Kevin Puts' Silent Night with the Minnesota Opera,where Karin will take on the challenging role of Anna Sørensen, her Carnegie Hall debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Chippewa Valley Symphony.
Her engagements for 2009–2010 included Musetta in La bohème with Minnesota Opera, as well as covering the title role of Salome with the company, and a concert appearance with Great Falls Symphony. Recently she sang the role of Mimi in La bohème with Pensacola Opera and sang the Spirit as well as covering the title role in Rusalka with Minnesota Opera. Previous engagements for 2008–2009 included a reprisal of her role in The Grapes of Wrath with Pittsburgh Opera, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with Piedmont Opera and Mimì in La bohème with Teatro Nacional de Managua in Nicaragua. Ms. Wolverton has been seen as Micaëla in Carmen with Des Moines Metro Opera, where in previous seasons she was seen in the roles of Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress and Antonia in Les contes d’ Hoffmann.
Engagements for 2006–2007 included a return to Minnesota Opera for Antonia in their Les contes d’Hoffmann, participation in the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath with both Minnesota Opera and Utah Opera and a soloist engagement with the Eugene Symphony in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. She has performed the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at Minnesota Opera where she dazzled audiences as Ines in Donizettti’s rarely performed bel canto masterpiece Maria Padilla and sang Micaëla in Carmen to a warm reception. In recent years she has appeared as Pamina in The Magic Flute, the Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, Praskowia in The Merry Widow, Clotilde in Norma, Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale, Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor and as the Celestial Voice in Don Carlos. Ms. Wolverton was a featured soloist in the Minnesota Orchestra’s performances of Dvorak’s Te Deum and sang the role of Mimì in excerpts from La bohème.
Ms. Wolverton spent two summers as an apprentice with the Des Moines Metro Opera, covering the role of Marguerite in Faust as well as participating in the Scenes Program. She recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Minnesota, where she has performed several roles as part of its Opera Theatre: Madame Lidoine in Dialogue of the Carmelites, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Nero in The Coronation of Poppea. Partial roles through the Opera Workshop include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Agathe in Der Freischütz and Micaëla in Carmen. Other past engagements include the Second Soprano in Park Square Theatre’s production of Masterclass and the featured soloist for the University of Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.
Ms. Wolverton was invited to participate in Central City Opera’s Young Artist Program in Colorado where she covered Giulietta in The Tales of Hoffmann and appeared in The Student Prince. In December, she sang the role of the Mother in the Minnesota Orchestra’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.
Kevin Puts, composer
Described by The New York Times as "exhilarating and compelling," the music of Kevin Puts has been commissioned and performed by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. Known for his distinctive and richly colored musical voice, Mr. Puts has received many of today’s most prestigious honors and awards for composition. An early boost to his career came in 1996 when Mr. Puts was named Composer-in-Residence of Young Concert Artists and composed several critically acclaimed works including Canyon, Ritual Protocol and the trio And Legions Will Rise for marimbist Makoto Nakura, as well as Alternating Current for pianist Jeremy Denk. During the same year he was invited by Barry Jekowsky, founder and Music Director of the California Symphony, to become the orchestra's third Young American Composer-in-Residence from 1996-1999, a period which culminated in the creation of his Symphony No. 1. Other important early commissions came from the New York Youth Symphony which premiered his Concerto for Everyone at Carnegie Hall in 1999, and the Vermont Symphony and Ensemble Kobe (Japan) which co-commissioned Marimba Concerto featuring Makoto Nakura.
Since then, Mr. Puts has created a sizable body of works for orchestra which includes four symphonies and several concertos. In April 2008, Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra gave the premiere of Night, a piano concerto commissioned through the LACO’s Sound Investment program. Mr. Puts has since begun performing the work himself, first appearing as soloist during the summer of 2010 with Marin Alsop conducting the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. His Clarinet Concerto, commissioned by Kathryn Gould, was written for Bil Jackson, who premiered the work with the Colorado Symphony under Jeffrey Kahane in 2009 and played the work again in August 2010 with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra led by Josep Caballe-Domenech. As the Composer-in-Residence for the Fort Worth Symphony, Mr. Puts wrote a violin concerto for concertmaster Michael Shih, which was given its premiere in April 2007 with Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting. Mr. Puts was selected as the 2007 American Composer-in-Residence for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, where his Two Mountain Scenes was premiered by the New York Philharmonic. The summer of 2007 also saw the premiere of Mr. Puts’ Symphony No. 4: From Mission San Juan by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop.
Mr. Puts’ 2005–2006 season included the premieres of three major orchestral works: Percussion Concerto for Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and the Utah Symphony, premiered by Evelyn Glennie and performed again at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music; Sinfonia Concertante for five solo instruments and orchestra for the Minnesota Orchestra; and a cello concerto, Vision, commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and performed by Yo-Yo Ma in honor of David Zinman’s 70th birthday.
Other orchestral commissions have included River’s Rush for the Saint Louis Symphony and Leonard Slatkin for the opening celebration of the orchestra’s 125th anniversary season in 2004. Commissioned by Kathryn Gould and Meet the Composer through the "Magnum Opus" project, Symphony No. 3, “Vespertine” was premiered by the Marin Symphony Orchestra in May 2004. The work was subsequently performed by the Santa Rosa Symphony, the New World Symphony, Memphis Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The Atlanta Symphony commissioned and premiered …this noble company in 2003. Falling Dream was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra/BMI Foundation for a premiere at the 25th Anniversary Concert of the American Composers Orchestra in 2002 with conductor Dennis Russell Davies at Carnegie Hall. Symphony No. 2, for which Mr. Puts was commissioned as winner of the Barlow International Orchestra Competition, was premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony under Paavo Järvi in 2002 and later performed by the Utah Symphony under Keith Lockhart and at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, conducted by Marin Alsop. Millennium Canons, commissioned by the Institute for American Music, was premiered by The Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart in 2001 and has received multiple performances across the United States.
Recent chamber music projects have included Credo, commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay for the Miro Quartet and continues to perform the work widely across the United States and abroad. In 2008, the string sextet Concertante commissioned and premiered Arcana; The Eroica Trio premiered Trio-Sinfonia, a work commissioned by Music Accord in 2007, and continues to perform the work widely; Four Airs, commissioned by the Music from Angel Fire Festival in 2004, was premiered by Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; Bil Jackson, clarinet; Ida Kavafian, violin; Andres Diaz, cello; and the composer on piano. Three Nocturnes was commissioned and premiered by the Verdehr Trio in 2004. The University of Texas Wind Ensemble commissioned Mr. Puts’ first work for winds, Chorus of Light, and premiered the piece with Jerry Junkin conducting in 2003. Summer 2002 saw the premiere of Einstein on Mercer Street, commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and premiered by bass-baritone Timothy Jones with Kevin Noe conducting.
In 2009, Mr. Puts began work with librettist Mark Campbell on Silent Night, an opera commissioned by Minnesota Opera and based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noël. The work will receive its premiere at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul, Minnesota in November 2011. Recordings of Mr. Puts’ work include the Naxos/Longhorn Records release of Credo by the Miro Quartet, the New Dynamics Records release of Einstein on Mercer Street featuring bass-baritone Timothy Jones and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble conducted by Kevin Noe, and both Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 3, released by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under its own label. Inspiring Beethoven, featuring the Bowling Green Philharmonia, has been released by Albany Records. Dark Vigil, commissioned and premiered by the Ying Quartet, is featured on the Quartet’s CD Life Music on the Quartz Music label. Ritual Protocol, Canyon and And Legions Will Rise, featuring marimbist Makoto Nakura, are available on the Kleos Classics/Helicon label.
Mr. Puts’ honors include the 2003 Benjamin H. Danks Award for Excellence in Orchestral Composition of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2001 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a 2001-2002 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and the 1999 Barlow International Prize for Orchestral Music. While an undergraduate at the Eastman School of Music, Puts was awarded a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the BMI 2001 Carlos Surinach Fund Commission, BMI’s 1998 William Schuman Prize, three student composer awards from BMI, as well as several grants from ASCAP. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Puts received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal instructors were Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner. He received his Master’s Degree from Yale University, where he studied with Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick and David Lang. Mr. Puts earned a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music, studying composition with Christopher Rouse and piano with Nelita True. From 1999 to 2005, he taught composition at The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2006, he has been a member of the Composition Faculty at the Peabody Institute.
Mark Campbell, librettist
Opera:Volpone (Wolf Trap Opera, music by John Musto); Later The Same Evening (University of Maryland, National Gallery of Art, music by Musto); Bastianello/Lucrezia (New York Festival of Song, Weill Recital Hall, music by Musto and William Bolcom); The Inspector (Wolf Trap Opera, music by Musto); Rappahannock County (Virginia Opera, Virginia Arts Festival, University of Richmond and University of Texas, music by Ricky Ian Gordon). Musicals:Songs From An Unmade Bed (New York Theatre Workshop); The Audience (Transport Group); Splendora (American Place Theatre); Light Shall Lift Them (Brooklyn Academy of Music); Wheatley's Folly (DC’s Signature Theatre). Awards: a Grammy nomination, three Drama Desk Award nominations, two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship and the first recipient of the Kleban Foundation Award for Lyricist.