Opera News Magazine
November 2011 — Vol. 76, No. 5
A Leap of Faith by Micahel Slade

Opera News Magazine

Kevin Puts © Gregory Downer 2011 [original link]

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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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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's hoping that it soon reaches New York-and recording."

Twin Cities

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."