Direction ASHLEY TATA
Commissioned by Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble
Film commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and the Holland Festival. This production was made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
starring NATHAN GUNN
May 12-17, 2020
TICKETS AND INFO AT chicagooperatheater.org
SOLDIER SONGS combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused concert music, and film footage by Bill Morrison to explore the perceptions versus the realities of a soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. Though music can be easily co-opted to serve a political or ideological message, it can equally be a vehicle for reflection, engagement, and emotional connection, as is seen in this gripping opera-theatre work.
The libretto, created by the composer, was adapted from recorded interviews with veterans of five wars. SOLDIER SONGS traces changing perceptions of war in our society and by those who experience it. The nameless soldier is followed through three phases of life: Youth (playing war games), Warrior (time served in the military), and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).
It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war machine culture, and of the nature of power in war. Each of the eleven songs explores a different aspect of the experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief. Multi-media elements are employed as a critique of the media’s ability to both glamorize and falsify the truth of combat.
Soldier Songs asks the tough questions and tells the tough stories through its poignant libretto, driving music, and surprising visual counterpoint. The tension between the visual and aural experience of our production works to dispel the numbness felt by those lucky enough to only experience war through the comfort of our living rooms.
“Mr. Little’s gifts for setting text comfortably and effectively, and for writing music informed by Minimalism and rock but slavishly indebted to neither, are evident throughout the briskly paced work. … The presentation provided further evidence of Mr. Little’s fast-rising stock as a vital theatrical creator.”
– The New York Times
“Shock and awe took on a new meaning: that of staging aesthetic.”
-The New York Times
”Little’s kaleidoscopic score includes jaundiced nods to both Aaron Copland’s Americana and 19th-century orientalist music, minimalist chirps and chants in “Real American Hero” and “Hollywood Ending,” and blistering, Hendrix-style strings in “War After War.”
“[Little] has earned acclaim for the imaginative way he draws on his varied musical interests to produce arresting and coherent works. Soldier Songs, for which Little wrote his own libretto, sustains that reputation.”
Full Production Trailer
Multimedia Concert Version Trailer
Soldier Songs with Film by Bill Morrison is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Photos from the Staged Production by Jill Steinberg
Photos from the multimedia concert version by Noah Stern Weber