Soldier Songs

Based on interviews with five US military veterans, Soldier Songs follows the true journey of a soldier beyond what we see in television and movies. The evening of theater will be a highly charged experience with arresting projections, eye-catching visuals and a thunderous score. Composer David T. Little combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused-concert music, and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war.

General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun will direct with Christopher Rountree making his Atlanta Opera debut as conductor.

Performed in English with English supertitles

Rialto Center for the Arts

Production funding by John and Rosemary Brown

Soldier songs.

Synopsis

The show’s opening line – “I never talk about this with anybody” – sets the tone for an evening that explores the perceptions of soldiers versus the realities they face, from the exploitation of innocence, the loss of battle, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war.  The production follows a single soldier over 60 years from Youth (war games) to Warrior (active service) to Elder (wise and reflective).

To help foster a more in-depth conversation on the subject, each performance will be followed by a panel discussion featuring veterans from four different wars, from World War II to the most recent action in Afghanistan and Iraq.  These discussions are free for ticketholders.

Characters & Cast

Soldier

the soldier from Youth to Warrior to Elder

Matthew Worth

Matthew Worth is quickly becoming the baritone of choice for innovative productions and contemporary works on the operatic leading edge.

Newbie Guide

Sponsored by the Molly Blank Fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

The Discoveries series

The Discoveries series is dedicated to audience members who are seeking new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives. These are not your standard operas.

Locations

As part of The Opera’s effort to bring opera to new audiences all over Atlanta, these productions are performed in exciting alternative venues that we don’t traditionally perform opera in.

Supertitles

Many operas are in a foreign language. Supertitles are similar to subtitles in a film, except they are projected above the stage. These translations will help you follow what’s happening on stage.

What to Wear

There is no dress code at The Opera and you will see everything from jeans to evening gowns and formal suits. Most people use it as a chance to enjoy dressing up in their own style.

Arriving in Good Time

If you are late, you will have to sit the first act in the back and then in the intermission ushers will show you to your seat. Plan ahead to arrive with extra time.

Directions to Discoveries series Venues

Enhance Your Visit

Backstory

Discoveries series performances include events either before or after the performance. As part of the Backstory program, these experiences allow audience members to learn more about the opera, open a conversation around important topics, and participate with the cast in conversation, dancing, and many other formats. Free for ticket holders.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Story

Because of the foreign languages, classical music, and often complex plots, you will very likely enjoy the performance better if you spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the story and characters in advance. Some people even like to listen to the music in advance and others prefer to let it wash over them during the show and perhaps look it up afterwards.

Costume & Set Design

Composer

David T. Little

David T. Little is “one of the most imaginative young composers” on the scene, a “young radical” (The New Yorker), with “a knack for overturning musical conventions” (The New York Times). His operas JFK (Royce Vavrek, librettist; Fort Worth Opera / Opéra de Montréal / American Lyric Theater), Dog Days (Royce Vavrek, librettist; Peak Performances / Beth Morrison Projects), and Soldier Songs (Prototype Festival) have been widely acclaimed, “prov[ing] beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future” (The New York Times).

Recent works include The Conjured Life (Cabrillo Festival Orchestra / Cristian Măcelaru), Ghostlight—ritual for six players (eighth blackbird / The Kennedy Center), AGENCY (Kronos Quartet), dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet (The Crossing / ICE), CHARM (Baltimore Symphony / Marin Alsop), Hellhound (Maya Beiser), Haunt of Last Nightfall (Third Coast Percussion). Little is currently working on a new opera commissioned by the MET Opera / Lincoln Center Theater new works program with Royce Vavrek, and the music-theatre work Artaud in the Black Lodge with Outrider legend Anne Waldman (Beth Morrison Projects). His music has been heard at LA Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, LA Opera, the Park Avenue Armory, Holland Festival, the Bang On A Can Marathon, BAM Next Wave and elsewhere. Educated at University of Michigan and Princeton, Little is co-founder of the annual New Music Bake Sale, has served as Executive Director of MATA, and serves on the Composition Faculty at Mannes-The New School. From 2014-2017, he served as Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group. The founding artistic director of the ensemble Newspeak, his music can be heard on New Amsterdam, Innova, and VIA Records labels. In fall 2016, VIA Records released the world-premiere recording of Dog Days, starring the original cast and Newspeak led by conductor Alan Pierson; the CD was listed as one of NPR’s Best Recordings of 2016. He received a 2017 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

David T. Little is published by Boosey & Hawkes. www.davidtlittle.com

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Conductor

Christopher Rountree

Rountree is the founder, conductor and creative director of the pathbreaking L.A. chamber orchestra wild Up. The group has been called “Searing. Penetrating. And Thrilling” by NPR’s Performance Today and named “Best Classical Music of 2015” by the New York Times. wild Up started in 2010 with no funding and no musicians, driven only by Rountree’s vision of a world-class orchestra that creates visceral, provocative experiences that are unmoored from classical traditions.

Whether he’s conducting, composing or curating a program, Rountree’s approach – with its “infectious enthusiasm” (L.A. Times) and “elegant clarity” (New York Times) – is united by extremely high energy and a deeply engaged relationship between a score, musicians and audience.

If there is a dam separating establishment classical music from more adventurous forms, Rountree finds himself spilling over both sides – conducting Opera Omaha here, and writing experimental narrative work about frozen yogurt for Jennifer Koh there.

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In the coming year, Rountree makes his debut with San Diego Opera, conducting Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen, and with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, he helps resurrect works of Graham, Barber, and Chavez with the Martha Graham Dance Company, makes an album with Pulitzer finalist Chris Cerrone, leads wild Up as Group in Residence at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, and conducts the score to Evil Dead, live with Bruce Campbell at the ACE Hotel in LA. He returns to the San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox, to the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of a twelve hour festival celebrating John Adams and new music in LA, and to Opera Omaha, conducting Jonathan Dove’s Flight.

Last year, Rountree made his Chicago Symphony, LA Opera and Atlanta Opera debuts, returned to the Music Academy of the West, to Ensemble LPR at (le) poisson rouge,  and twice to the San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox series, conducted the Interlochen World Youth Orchestra on the New York Philharmonic’s 2016 Biennial, premiered David Lang’s new opera Anatomy Theater, joined Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner with wild Up at the Laguna Beach Music Festival, and conducted Diavolo’s new show “L’Espace du Temps: Glass, Adams, and Salonen.”

As a composer, his recent premieres and commissions include a new piece for The Crossing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a re-orchestration of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Foreign Bodies, a choral work for Bjork’s choir Graduale Nobili in Reykjavik, Iceland, a piece based on Stephen Mitchell’s Rilke for friends Aperture Duo, Jodie Landau, and Danielle Birrittella, and two new pieces for Jennifer Koh: a short solo theater piece on the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial, and a large scale concerto co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Jenny and wild Up.

In past years, Rountree founded an education intensive with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, continued an education partnership at the Colburn School, founded an opera workshop with The Industry, and taught “Creativity and Consciousness” at Bard College’s Longy School. He debuted Opera Omaha performing John Adams’ “A Flowering Tree,” debuted on the San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox series, and started a three-year stint as guest conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

With his eclectic style and resume, he’s been tapped to curate events for contemporary art institutions, including the Getty Museum, MCA Denver, and the Hammer Museum, where a long-running wild Upresidency brought the group to national prominence.

Through it all, Rountree is guided by his vision of a more engaging classical music culture that blows up the old boxes. “I don’t have enough tattoos to be the badboy provocateur of classical music,” Rountree jokes. “But is the goal to dismantle the barriers to the artform, and to build something entirely new — something bursting with life, contemporary relevance, and deep mindfulness? That is exactly what we’re doing.”

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Director

Tomer Zvulun

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Tomer Zvulun is also one of opera’s most exciting stage directors, earning consistent praise for his creative vision, often described as cinematic and fresh. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires, Wexford, New Orleans, Minnesota and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv. His debut in New York was in a new production of L’heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi at Juilliard Opera Center that was praised by The New York Times for its “witty, fast-paced staging and the director’s Felliniesque style.”

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Known for creating innovative, visually striking new interpretations for standard operas as well as championing new works by contemporary composers, his work has been seen internationally in Europe, South and Central America, Israel, and the US. Recently he created critically acclaimed new productions of Semele (Seattle Opera) Lucia di Lammermoor (Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveleand), La bohème (Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta), Lucrezia Borgia (Buenos Aires), Gianni Schicchi (Juilliard, IVAI Tel Aviv), L’heure espagnole (Juilliard), The Magic Flute (Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indiana University), Don Giovanni (Wolf Trap, Cincinnati), Die Fledermaus (Dallas, Kansas City), Falstaff (Wolf Trap, Des Moines), Rigoletto (Boston, Atlanta, Omaha), Madama Butterfly (Atlanta, Castleton Festival), Tosca (National Theatre Panama, Atlanta) and Dialogues of the Carmelites (IVAI Tel Aviv), among many others.

His passion for producing new works by living composers was realized in the acclaimed European premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at Wexford Festival Opera in 2014. The production won two Irish Times Awards and will be remounted at The Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera.
In 2015-16 he created a new production of Soldier Songs (David T. Little) as a part of the award-winning Discoveries Series in Atlanta in a production that traveled to San Diego Opera. He then went on to create an acclaimed new production of Dead Man Walking that marked his return to New Orleans Opera. This was his second collaboration with composer Jake Heggie following his new production of Three Decembers at Boston University.

Some of his upcoming projects include the world premiere of the new opera Dinner at Eight (Bolcom) at Minnesota Opera, followed by the European premiere at Wexford Festival, new productions of Maria de Buenos Aires and Die Fliegende Holländer in Atlanta, a new Giulio Cesare for the Israeli Opera (Acco Festival), a new Eugene Onegin at Kansas City and a revival of his acclaimed production of La bohème in Dallas.

Since taking the leadership in Atlanta he increased the operations of the company from 12 to 26 performances per season, while stabilizing the financials. Some of his noted achievements include launching the successful Discoveries series, a program that presents new contemporary works and rarely done operas in alternative venues, creating the first young artist program in the company’s history, and doubling the company annual fundraising.

His work at The Atlanta Opera earned the company an international reputation by earning numerous awards and prizes, including a nomination for the 2016 International Opera Awards in London, the selection of the acclaimed Discoveries series in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Best of 2015 list, and his recent nomination for the 2016 Atlanta Luminary awards.

As a stage director, he made his debut in Atlanta with a critically acclaimed Die Fliegende Holländer in 2009, a production which led to a series of memorable new co-productions with sister opera companies including The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, La bohème, and Romeo and Juliet.

During his 7 years at the Metropolitan Opera, Tomer has directed revivals of Tosca and Carmen, and worked on a number of new productions, most notably La rondine, La traviata, La fille du régiment, Iphigénie en Tauride, and Manon. Tomer was born and raised in Israel, served as a medic in a combat unit in IDF, attended the Tel Aviv Open University and The Harvard Business School executive program.

TZ New Headshot 2013