Meffert-Nelson, Knoepfel & Hill in Minnesota Opera Premiere

Posted on November 22nd, 2011 by

Minnesota Opera's Silent Night

Minnesota Opera's Silent Night

Gustavus Department of Music faculty Karrin Meffert-Nelson, Justin Knoepfel and Paul Hill were in the orchestra as the Minnesota Opera premiered Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Silent Night to sold-out audiences at St. Paul’s Ordway Center on November 12 – 20. Called “dark and elegaic” by the Daily Planet, Silent Night is based on the true story from of an unusual Christmas truce at the front lines in the darkest days of WWI. It was not a Hallmark Special. “Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell treat the truce as exactly that: a rare interlude of good heart and good sense in the middle of a long, brutal world war.

Based on a true story recounted in the screenplay for the motion picture Joyeux Noël by Christian Carion, Silent Night brings Christmas Eve, December 1914, to the Minnesota Opera stage. The opera depicts that one night when Scottish, French and German officers defied their superiors and negotiates a Christmas Eve truce. It was a miraculous moment of peace in the midst of one of the bloodiest wars in our nation’s history. On the western front, weapons were laid down and enemies became brothers as they came together to share Christmas and, together, bury their dead. Acclaimed tenor William Burden starred as the soldier whose voice inspired peace among adversaries – if only for a night.

As reviewed by The Daily Planet, “Puts’s dark score, which often dwindles to interludes of eerie silence, is uncompromising in portraying the horrors of war. This is by no means a feel-good holiday show; rather, it’s a stark and powerful reminder that peace on earth and good will towards men is nothing to be taken for granted.”

Three members of the Gustavus Department of Music were a part of the world premiere performances of composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell’s extraordinary re-telling of this very human part of military history. Assistant Professor of Music, Karrin Meffert-Nelson, clarinet, is in her first year as a member of the music faculty. Assistant Professor of Music, Justin Knoepfel, violin & viola, has served as an Adjunct Instructor and is now in his second year as an Assistant Professor. Percussionist Paul Hill is an Adjunct Instructor and has served the department as instructor and director of the percussion ensembles for several years.

Additional information is available at the Minnesota Opera website:


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