Silent Night

October 19, 2018

A Putlizer Prize-winning 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.

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Included Works

About the Album


  1. Minnesota Opera (Nov. 2011)
  2. Opera Company of Philadelphia (Feb. 2013)
  3. Fort Worth Opera (May 2014)
  4. Cincinnati Opera (July 2014)
  5. Wexford Festival Opera (Oct.-Nov. 2014)
  6. Calgary Opera (Nov. 2014)
  7. Lyric Opera of Kansas City (Feb.-March 2015)
  8. Opera de Montreal (May 2015)
  9. Atlanta Opera (Nov. 2016)
  10. Michigan Opera Theatre (Nov. 2016)
  11. Opera San Jose (Feb. 2017)
  12. Piedmont Opera (Oct. 2017)
  13. Glimmerglass Festival (July 2018)
  14. University of Kentucky Opera Theatre (Nov. 2018)
  15. Washington National Opera (Nov. 2018)
  16. Minnesota Opera (Nov. 2018)
  17. Buffalo Opera Unlimited (Nov. 2018)
  18. University of British Columbia (Nov. 2018)
  19. Opera North (Nov. 2018)
  20. Austin Opera (Jan. 2019)
  21. Arizona Opera (March 2019)
  22. Utah Opera (Jan. 2020)
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.
Opera News
"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. Through it all, conductor Michael Christie leads the Minnesota Opera Orchestra with characteristic deftness."
San Francisco Examiner
"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."
Opera News
"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."
New Music Box
"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.""
"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."
"“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."
The Washington Post
"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."
The New York Times
"“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."
The New York Times
"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."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"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..."
"...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."
Theater Jones
"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."
D Magazine
"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..."
City Beat
"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."
"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"
Calgary Herald
"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..."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"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..."
"A modern classic"
Review of the West Coast premiere of "Silent Night" at Opera San Jose.
San Francisco Chronicle
"Puts’ well-crafted score, with an excellent libretto by Mark Campbell, draws the audience into the action, and a strong cast, effective staging by director Michael Shell and a shapely orchestral performance led by conductor Joseph Marcheso made Saturday’s performance an engrossing experience."
The Mercury News
"Silent Night just may prove to be the first enduring operatic masterpiece of the century."
Opera Today
Interview with Stay Thirsty magazine, talking about Elizabeth Cree, Silent Night and more
Stay Thirsty Magazine
"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."
Winston-Salem Journal
"It is always a challenge, especially because I always expect more of myself from one project than from the one before. But every composer develops a way of working which feels right and great to them, and I like mine."
"Silent Night – Glimmerglass Festival: Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s award-winning masterpiece makes its Glimmerglass debut in a new production by Tomer Zvulun."
"Puts’ score, conducted with unfailing assurance by Nicholas Kok, is virile and punchy."
The Telegraph