Those seeking holiday expressions that go beyond Hallmark platitudes and department-store spending sprees would do well to treat themselves to Silent Night, an early Christmas present of sorts from the Minnesota Opera. Making its world debut, the piece was inspired by the Christmas Truce of 1914, a remarkable series of spontaneous yuletide ceasefires that occurred between the trenches of opposing European armies amidst the carnage of WWI. In some instances these truces were limited to respectful cessations of fighting, while in other cases soldiers actually fraternized on the battlefield, agreed to bury their dead, and sang Christmas carols. While military leaders attempted to suppress any record of the events, recent years have brought a rediscovery of the truces, as evidenced locally by All Is Calm, the annual collaboration between Cantus and Theater Latté Da, and internationally by the critically acclaimed film Joyeux Noël. Adapting the latter, Silent Night combines the formidable talents of celebrated composer Kevin Puts (providing his very first opera) and librettist Mark Campbell. Guided by Academy Award-winning director Eric Simonson and conducted by the renowned Michael Christie, the production enlists English, German, French, Italian, and Latin voices to reflect both the historic reality and the universal ideals that compelled avowed enemies to momentarily relinquish their arms in respect for a shared humanity.
Sat., Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 20, 2 p.m., 2011