Silent Night reviews

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November, 2016 |

Bev Kirk –  Kenilworth, Illinois

Breathtaking! Heartstopping! Poignant! Beautiful!

 

Keith Otis Edwards – Dearborn

My primary objection is that it’s really slooooowwwww. After returning from the refreshment stand (and feeling thus energized) during intermission, I leaned over the orchestra pit railing and shouted at the concert master:
“HEY! HEY YOU! . . . THERE ANY PASSAGES IN THIS THING MARKED ALLEGRO??”
Concertmaster: “Uh, there’re two, and we played them already.”
At this, I put my hands to my head as if I were suffering from an apoplectic seizure and began moaning.
See, the beauty of opera is that there’s a variety of music so that the audience doesn’t become bored. A piece about the military and warfare, and there’re no rousing tunes? Even Wozzeck has the soldier’s chorus: “Soldaten! Soldaten!”
This opera starts out at Parsifal speed then runs over spike strips.

 

Mark Libecki – Vermontville

This is an impressive presentation, the story is heart rendering and the performance is beautiful. Both are what I expected, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the sets and staging. Innovative, bold, artistic and stunning, not overshadowing the performance, but enhancing it in surprising and delightful ways. This was my first opera and it is a masterpiece.

 

Brion Hoke – Huron Twp.

‘Silent Night’ was truly mesmerizing. I teach a WWI history class and I was impressed with the costuming and the set was usefully innovative.
The story of the Christmas Truce is one of the great stories is a war full of horrific moments.
I highly recommend this show to all, especially those interested in WWI and a story of love and refusal.

 

Carine – Waterford

Very nice, touching presentation.
You can feel the level of singing is a little uneven but it works beautifully at the end.
The feminine touch is giving a dimension to the story not only bc she is divine but bc she embodies the kindness and humanity much needed in this dire time.
The set was beautiful, artistic and perfectly adjusted for each scene.

 

Matt Landry – Northville

Obvious why this production won a Pulitzer. Several moments bring you near to tears, several sadden you, and there are even many of well-timed humor. The music is astonishing, a combination (to my ear) of contemporary orchestra writing (the sort you hear in accessible new compositions at Orchestra Hall) and non-orchestral writing, such as for bagpipes and harmonica, which are very effective. It lacks a great “tune”, but it doesn’t matter. And needless to say, if you’re not familiar with the Christmas Eve WW1 story, it is thick enough to hold the weight of the intense and striking score. I waver between contemporary and traditional opera, but this is pushing toward seeing more modern productions.
With respect for Mr. Edwards’ comments about the opera being slow, I personally feel that a rousing march (or something similar) would have been distasteful to the subject matter (just my opinion), and that the only thing that made the opera not pull me from one scene straight to the next (which are done in beautiful transitions – you’ll see!), was the fact that beneath the overhang in the rear of the main floor, people’s coughing tends to reverberate quite loudly.
Overall, the MOT’s series of operas “in our time” (I believe it’s called something like that) is just plain killer. Check this out!

 

Bill and Marcia Betz – Clinton Twp.

We have been opera fans for over thirty years and although it wasn’t Puccini or Verdi we loved it. It was so intense and full of emotion and history (to a degree). The sets, staging, projection and lighting were some of the best that we have ever seen. The orchestra was fantastic and the singing was also very good. Mr. Edwards must have his head in the sand, and must have been at the bar when the allegros were played.

 

David – Troy

Never having heard this opera before, I wanted to give it a fair look. I didn’t find the music memorable at all. The cacophony of sound lacked rhythm and seemed disjointed at times. There were no toe-tapping pieces that will be hummed by the spectators. However, the story made a great impression. The librettist gave real depth to each character. The performers on stage expressed themselves beautifully. The French lieutenant’s aria in the first act was particularly poignant. I had the opportunity to tour the opera house last weekend and saw the sets and costumes up close. They were fantastic. I don’t know that I would want to see Silient Night again any time soon, but I would recommend it to anyone who has not seen it yet.

 

Mary Jane Doerr  – Auburn Hills

RUN, DON’T WALK to get tickets for SILENT NIGHT. Nothing but the the real thing will do to experience the incredible set and staging. The battle with the music and effects is a WOW! Mary

 

Lynne Metty – Detroit

I echo the majority of the comments so far, so I won’t bother repeating them. Thanks to MOT, I also had the opportunity to see the film, Joyeux Noel, on which the opera was based. I think that having seen the film, I had an even greater appreciation of the staging and set design for the opera. What seemed to be very complex staging was carried out so effectively that it had an almost cinematic quality. I found myself completely involved in the story. One of the things that struck me about the music itself was that there were several points in the opera where we heard just the orchestra and there was no actual singing. Usually I don’t like those kinds of interludes in opera and find them rather boring. In this case I thought that they enhanced the mood and advanced the drama very effectively. I am so thankful that MOT has included this opera and The Passenger in the last two seasons, and I loved Frida as well. I hope that this kind of programming will continue for many seasons to come.

 

Dorothy – Dearborn

The staging was impressive. The voices were exhilarating. The music was interesting. Thanks for a very enjoyable evening.

 

Robert Erdt – Pinckney

I loved the presentation of this WWI true story. The singing was just wonderful and filled with beautiful emotion. The stage and the transfer of scenes kept you moving and was alive. Great stage detail!
As an Airforce Veteran, Thank you for honoring us at the beginning of the show.
This was my first Opera and will not be last, I am hooked!

 

Norman Lewis – West Bloomfield

Beautifully and creatively staged. Thought provoking anti-war polemic set to acceptable and sometimes delightful music. A tour de force for the librettist handling three languages competently

 

Sarah E. Lee – Macomb

I loved this opera, especially scheduling opening night the day after Veterans Day. Did more “research” on this opera than I usually do. Attended the free Opera House tour the week before that put us on the stage close to the sets and the pre-Opera lecture, where I learned the five languages used to make the experience more authentic, instead of all singing in English. Also learned not to expect an aria or “hum-along-tune.” The music could easily stand alone as a symphony piece. My only complaint is the orchestra sometimes drowned out the singer. I was sitting in the trustees circle, close to the center. (Same thing happened in Carmen). Compare this experience to The Passenger, which had a compelling story, Silent Night gets the higher vote. Couldn’t wait for The Passneger to end, whereas I wanted more of the story of Silent Night. DId all the characters survive the war?

 

Wenonah & Susan – Detroit

Wonderful production. The sets were amazing. On point, given the opening was at the end of an election week.

 

CorinneO – Bingham Farms

Exceeded expectations–fabulous! How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to experience this great opera. Thank you to MOT.

 

Dan – Rochester Hills

The Silent Night is a somber, subdued, even reverential depiction of the lives of common people caught up in World War 1. This work encourages reflection about how people confront the disaster of war. The cast is excellent – well balanced and well drawn; the chorus is sublime as always; the orchestration is subtle and sophisticated; and the sets ,as many note, are excellent. There is some humor along with the depiction of death and suffering. But it is mostly a story of one of the greatest disasters in the history of the Western World – a conflict that ushered in and defined the rest of the 20th century. It is important to understand this war and this work helps draw attention to the study and realization of how and why this catastrophe occurred and what it did to and what it meant to people involved.

 

Armando Lopez – Plymouth

A truly wonderful performance, buoyed by powerful voices and sets that defied the imagination. The opera portrayed an episode in one of the world’s most horrible wars, showing at he same time the indivisible connection between human beings irrespective of their ethnicity or nationality. For one night, soldiers from both sides forgot about the war and shared their gifts, as well as their hopes for a quick end to the hostilities.
The opera effectively captures those moments. “Silent Night” is a must see opera.

 

Rami Guerguis – Saint Clair Shores

I enjoyed every second of it. the singing and music was great.

 

sam & barb – Sterling Heights

loved Carmen we love traditioal opera . bring them back leave modern productions to the Fisher theatre. this was just a sheep in wolves clothing. Sorry

 

Nancy K. Swanborg – Farmington Hills

I didn’t know exactly what to expect as it has been years since I attended an opera and that was not a modern opera.
I was totally charmed by the sets and the lighting. The round moving platform helped to take me from the bunker to the battlefield and back. The snow flakes were absolutely beautiful, and all of the passing clouds, the moon, the trees created the scene superbly for me. The music was interesting, dissonant at times and not a sing-a-long variety, but it was WWI. The insertion of the woman into the opera offered a nice contrast to all the male voices.

 

Clement – Detroit

Awesome ! Costumes are great, realistic, and the singing was so beautiful. So glad I got to see that !!

 

Helen – Farmington Hills

The staging was wonderful. Very creative. The story was a little slow. Great voices but no memorable songs.

 

Rose – Garden City

What a beautiful night! I loved the bagpipe music. The sets were moved in such a great way.

 

Stephen and Jane Z.  – Chelsea

We are recent “transplants” to Michigan from New York City. We had a subscription to the Met. We were worried that we would miss opera when we moved. MOT has been a revelation. Obviously the Met is an experience that all opera lovers should have. MOT has been a revelation. The smaller house is intimate and enjoyable. In some ways it has been better than productions we have attended at the Met. We were at Silent Night for the Wednesday evening performance. We have had mixed reactions to more recently composed operas. However, we found Silent Night to be poignant, thought provoking and in moments, spiritual. It might seem inappropriate to say you “enjoyed” a piece given the setting for the opera. However, the music, libretto, staging and acting all combined to provide a glimpse at how even in the midst of barbaric slaughter, men can still summon a ray of humanity and kindness. Bravo to MOT for staging this production at a time when we remember the service of our own veterans, and just at the start of the holiday season.

 

WE – Alexandria, VA

A fine production with great stage mechanics (reminiscent of the Passenger) and interesting subtleties in detail such as the “tattering” of the countries’ flags displayed prior to the opening of each act (from pristine at the beginning of the first act to torn and shot through at the beginning of the second) BUT what a depressing, heavily-pacifist message !

 

Mary C – Rochester Hills

A beautiful evening. We all became part of the production. The world must know of this. So human and humane. The humor helped keep us from despair . The production as a whole drew us in to their (our) world. Thanks to all involved.

 

Eleanor – Harrison Twp.

The story itself is heart rending, but the opera was slow , especially the second act. The music wasn’t great. The best part was the sets.

 

RJA – Oak Park

 I kept remembering a phrase from the ’60’s, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”

 

Conrad Donakowski  – Okemos

Running the gamut of emotion, musical expression, and stagecraft SILENT NIGHT drew tears from everybody around me.

 

Ron Magnuson – Warren

Silent Night makes for an ideal compagnon to The Passenger in the Opera in our Time series. It is very accessible, full of lovely melodic lines, lush harmonic treatment and percussive energy.
The highlights for me include the nostalgic “J’ai perdu ta lettre”, the sublime men’s chorus that follows the aria, the charming Scottish tune accompanied by bagpipes (playing from somewhere in the bowls of the theater) and the heartbreaking chorus accompanied by the reappearance of the mournful drone of the pipes.
Hats off to the vocal coach as I could easily understand the French, German and even the Scottish brogue as enunciated by the singers.
The orchestra reveled the the many evocative colors provided by the score and the chorus was, as usual, superb.
The production was a visual success as well, with an innovative rotating set and inventive projections against the backdrop.
Bravo MOT.

 

Ted Braude – Royal Oak

A must see. Story is profound. Set design amazing. Cast and singing outstanding. Don’t miss it!

 

Jonathan Kung – Detroit

This was my first opera, and it was interesting. There were great points that were energizing to listen, and it was a treat to hear multiple (and accurate) languages being sung. I still do not understand that much about the standard procedure of opera, but I felt that given the subject matter, this was an awesome opera. Instead of my initial view on an opera (aka romance/drama/revenge), this was a “refreshing” feeling, though extremely sad and depressing as WWI is not supposed to be the happiest part of human history. The humanity shown, the horrors of war, and the frustration of the endless cycle of war were shown in full. I do not know if I would see this again, but I would highly recommend people to see it at least once.

 

Chris Felcyn – Detroit

Totally riveting theatrical experience from first note to last.

 

Katie – Grand Rapids

This was my first opera and I was surprised and delighted at how modern it was. The singing was fantastic but I was very happy to have subtitles to follow along. The use of screens and projection was so artistic and well done. The set was epic and costumes were perfect. Overall an amazing introduction the the art of Opera.

 

Harriet S – Detroit

I wish I had seen this on the first Saturday night so I could recommend it to more people and strongly suggest they attend. I am sorry there is only one more perfromance of this stunning and moving opera. The story is moving and meaningful in this time of divisive attitudes in our own country; the music fits the story; the singing and acting were both excellent (although I am certainly glad to have supertitles!). And the sets! Oh the sets! Their ability to express the story through the use of complex visual imagery projected and reflected, was amazing. I missed the opportunity to see the sets earlier that day and am truly sorry I couldn’t experience being on stage – if only for a moment.
I thank the funders of the approach to include modern operas into the MOT schedule All three productions were amazing and wonderful to experience. None of them were “happy” plays with “happy endings” but how many operas are? They all reflected life as it is – or, in the case of “Passengers” and “Silent Night” as it really was. I thank all those who participated fin this production for providing a thoughtful moving operatic experience to those of us lucky enough to see and hear “Silent Night”.

 

Thomas Taylor  – Ann Arbor

This was a superb production of a fine new opera. Every aspect of the work and performance exceeded our expectations. Fine conception of fleshing out of the rather sketchy theme – well-planned pacing and evocative melodic, textural and harmonic expression of a variety of emotions. The contrast between the human desire to reach out and bridge differences or to follow orders of officialdom was made real and clearly drawn.
Altogether, it was a powerfully moving experience. We discussed it all the way on the drive back home to Ann Arbor. So glad we put out the $ and energy to go all the way in to Detroit to attend. Thank you for continuing the MOT tradition.

 

Blondi – Commerce

We loved it! The topic is a true story during WW1. This was done with great sensitivity and warmth. The actors were into their roles as they sung and and the voices were more than just lovely. The music fit the story and the sets…oh my!! The set as it moved with the story was magnificent. This was a masterpiece in the best of the meaning.
I was reminded of the book “all quiet on the western front” as I sat and tried to absorb it all! Michigan Opera Theater is a First Class Company…. Thank you Mr Dicheira for settling on Detroit to bring your drive and love for Opera.

 

Jill Banaszynski – Leonard

Good opera/play/story. Moving and emotional. Well sung, but glad for the supertitles! ; )
Lots of good messages in the story. Can’t we all just get along??!!

 

Rudy G – Toledo

Beautiful story. Beautiful music. This is an opera about a peaceful time in a crazy war. Heartwarming and gut wrenching all in one story. No dry eyes here.

 

AM – Royal Oak

Left at intermission, did NOT LIKE this opera at all. The set was excellent.

 

Barbara Ann Shapiro – Southfield

A beautiful and poignant story to start with..
This was enhanced by exquisite settings, back drops and staging. The ending was phased out into darkness and perfect for the mood of the the opera.
The music was beautiful , the opera voices excellent.
The story was based on a true happening.
Perfect for holiday viewing! It leaves you feeling hopeful for mankind.

 

elaine – Grosse Pointe Park

beautiful, haunting, heart-wrenching……the music, sets, vocals, lighting, costumes, pacing all contributed to the whole mood and story.
“Dona nobis Pacem” has replaced “Silent Night”.
I’m going to find the old movie Joyoux Noelle and watch it.

 

Marlene – Detroit

Very moving. Interesting staging and set strategy. Glad I came!

 

Carl Smith – Saline

It was an amazing production. Loved the sets, the staging, the voices; everything about it.
Thanks for a wonderful afternoon!!!!

 

Brian Murphy – Rochester Hills

FABULOUS opera! Very moving.

 

Sara Phillips – St Clair Shores

Absolutely loved it! I took my 14 year old grandson who is a WWI and WWII buff and he was enthralled. The sets were amazing.

 

Jack – Ann Arbor

Thank you, MOT, for doing “operas of our time.” I am glad to have had the opportunity to see the award-winning opera, Silent Night. There was something for everyone in this production — history we all need to remember, emotional stories, orchestral music, singing, acting, grand sets with stage manager nightmare set changes, useful but not overwhelming projections to help set the scene, places and times — even if each of us found some elements not to our preference. We can look forward to MOT, in the future, continuing to bring us a wide variety of opera experiences.

 

Judith – Novi

We attended the final performance. OUTSTANDING! Perhaps the best we have seen at MOT over 18 years and superior or equal to Lyric Opera-Chicago and Toronto. Agree with the many positive remarks above. Truly remarkable in every respect. Wow. Hope to see Fellow Travelers down the road. The other contemporary choices at MOT in the past 3 yrs excellent but today’s over the top wonderful. Thank you Dr. DiChiera!!

 

David Daniels (but NOT the great countertenor, alas) – Rochester Hills

Absolutely stunning!

 

Dee Flint – Clinton Two

It was wonderful. The score was highly suited to the subject matter. The performers seemed to understand the material. The sets were outstanding.

 

Allecia – Shelby Twp

Excellent costumes and stage setup. The voices were phenomenal and it tugged at the heart strings. The ending of just the grave with the snow falling really touched me. Loved it!
My one critique is that “Silent Night” wasn’t sung. It was sung in the French movie and I would’ve liked it today. Otherwise, awesome opera!

 

Barbara W – Warren

Interesting concept and impressive execution/production (loved the falling pages and snow on the scrim toward the end). In light of recent (and future?) politics, I found this opera almost unbearably somber. I guess it made its cathartic point.

 

JeffB – Beaver Island

What an outstanding show it was breathtaking from start to finish, the quality of the cast, orchestra and stage work was all above and beyond.

 

Gretchen – Midland

Simply excellent!!
Very poignant and with some terrific humor interspersed. Nice to see the Germans portrayed sympathetically. Set design and lighting outstanding. Most importantly, the performers were all top notch — both singing and acting. Really appreciated the extra add-ons as well — the pre-opera introduction, the acknowledging veterans in the audience, and giving out poppies. It’s really important for new operas to be commissioned and performed. This should be one that becomes part of the regular repertoire.

 

Jim & Maria – Detroit

We’re glad we saw it, but wouldn’t care if we ever saw it again. The sets, staging, & performers we wonderful. However, even though we understood the reasoning behind the “clashing” of the orchestra with the singers, we didn’t care for it at all. We prefer opera with melodies you want to hum & sing as you’re on your home from the performance. If this were the first opera we ever attended, we probably wouldn’t attend another. I wouldn’t recommend it for first-time opera goers.

 

Harold Delaney –  Allen Park

This was very touching, and has meaning during times like this in our country where there is division. It goes to show that although times may seem divided with intense conflict, people are people, and there is goodness in all of us if we open our minds and hearts and try to appreciate and understand each other. The orchestra sounded beautiful, and the singing was superb. The sets were great which contributed to the tone of the opera.
Aside from the opera review, I recommend that people visit the Cadillac Cafe prior to the show. The staff is very warm and welcoming which provides a very friendly and pleasant pre-opera experience.

 

Mary Andrews – Farmington Hills

Remembering. Remembering our important past. How do we remember and how might we affect changes for the betterment of mankind? A daunting task. Yet, opera is just that: a powerful conduit for us to think about, to reflect upon, and perhaps to act upon change. It takes us to those private places within ourselves through the subtleties of sound and sight. It permeates effectively to our very core. The impact is enormous. Silent Night is a vehicle which finds that intimate mark, both musically, and visually. A good choice for the season.

 

Ali – Farmington

Wow. Very powerful opera with such an important message. Loved that it was sung in the 3 different language. The staging was impressive and really set the mood – every soldier was suffering in the same conditions. At first the discordant music was grating, but war is discordant so it fit the story and it quickly wasn’t an issue. I am so glad I bought a ticket to this opera – it was very moving and will not be forgotten. Can we make all politicians see this? And thank you for recognizing our veterans in the audience!

 

Richard VandenBrul  – Livonia

I have been active in the World War 1 Historical Association for many years and am familiar with the “Christmas Truce” story.
I was delighted to attend the Opera Silent Night.
It was one of the most enjoyable Opera’s I have seen. The staging was superb and the music and singing outstanding.
I hope Silent Night continues to be performed World Wide as it is a welcome addition to the Operatic world. I have mentioned it to my fellow members of the World War 1 Historical Association.

 

Mary – Rochester Hills

I thought it was wonderfully new and appealing. The staging was so “now” – not the usual staid opera sets. The intertwining of the stories of the three men made a rather basic story come alive. We all have heard of the story of the truce and seen the PBS special on it. But this brought it to life.
Voices were good – no one stood out. The orchestration was powerful and well played. The soulfulness of the horn in act 2 was poignant.

 

Michael Goler  – Cleveland

I thought the opera was well performed (the orchestra is always excellent), and the singers well-throated. and the production itself was well suited to the story. But I found the music, tho lush, to be very slow in most cases and there seemed to be very little excitement in the score. As many contemporary operas seem to be nowadays, there is more recitative and fewer (in this case no) arias or opportunities for singers to “stretch” their voices, and no memorable tunes or musical phrases that stick in the mind. But all in all, a well done piece. Bravo, Dr. DiChiera.

 

Tom Seubert – Roseville

Well done! The music was spot on, with a modern twist, the acting was good, the stage set design was great, and the story was paced well to make a good opera. Would efinitely see this one again.

 

David Frye – Ortonville

Silent Night was, perhaps, one of the greatest performances of any kind that I have seen. The set worked well in so many ways — it was supremely functional, beautiful, and ugly. The entire atmosphere was so earthen gray, but that heightened the stand out color of the individual humans that faced each other in that terrible war. It really helped drive home the message that human beings can choose to rise above the melee and show compassion, even in the midst of compulsory atrocity, if only for a moment. That is our true nature. War forces us to deny that feeling of compassion.
The music was very definitely a 21st century composition, but it was not as “experimental” or “rule breaking” in its make up. Its disonnence from time to time was there for definite purpose. But, at other times there were more sentimental and melodic passages that aligned with the characters’ thoughts drifting back to remembrances of home and families–sweet memories that were driven to the audience by the music. Really excellent composition! The singing was terrific and sung in 5 languages during the course of the opera. This may seem odd, but it worked seamlessly and its also drove home the thought that war brings together peoples that may have no connection with one another excepting in waging the war against each other.
Obviously, I was profoundly moved by the performance.

 

Adam – Kitchener

I very much enjoyed the spectacle of full Grand Opera. A complete orchestra in the pit, amazing use of projection and lighting, and an interesting an innovative set were all a true pleasure. The MOT presentation was First Rate. The opera however reinforced my opinion of modern opera in general, that it is not musical enough. There was no great soaring overture, very little rousing chorus work, no memorable arias or duets, instead there was too much recit. I was surprised that the first act did not end with a stunning “over-the-top” choral arrangement of Silent Night as both the title and history would suggest. Overall I wanted an opera about such an epic and heroic story to have music to match and at that I was disappointed.

 

JB

I loved it! I am not usually an opera patron, but I attended the performance because my grandfather fought for Italy in WW II and he used to tell me how at night they would cross the line and play poker with the Germans and get drunk and party. Then in the morning it was back to killing each other. Thank you for presenting such a timeless, thought provoking program.

 

Mary Jo Durivage – Dearborn

I loved the show. I had seen the movie and had heard about this time in history. It was very moving (I cried).
I wish every policy maker in the world could see this. Peace is possible.
So glad this opera came to Detroit.

 

Bill Tennant –  St. Johns

Living over 100 miles away, I pretty much just drive in now to attend your more contemporary productions – productions that are new and I haven’t seen before. Thank you MOT for your excellent programing – taking a chance on new works – giving your patrons a chance to stretch and grow. I loved Silent Night, just as I did The Passenger last season – Frida too… the productions are always well performed and great visually – the total package. I truly appreciate having a forward thinking production company here in our state for us contemporary types. You will continue to see me at your productions – also receiving my financial support to keep the new works coming!

 

Hannah – Dearborn

Absolutely wonderful story! Music was all in minor key, mood of the war. No hummable passages. Story did not really need opera singer romance. Wish we’d heard a male chorus sing or hum more music, it is beautiful and powerful. I liked the bagpipes. I did expect to hear at least a little Christmas music. I think O Come All Ye Faithful, in Latin and English would have been great-with all male voices. It’s even better because it’s based upon a true story.

Learn more about Silent Night