Opera ATX – Soldier Songs

Soldier Songs performance with Opera ATX Logo

“From child to warrior, and then to a third section where stories diverged and veterans reflected on their combat experience and challenges reintegrating back into civilian life, “Soldier Songs” brought it all home.”
–Los Angeles Times

In celebration of its bold new artistic initiative, Opera ATX, Austin Opera is proud to present the Central Texas premiere of an innovative new multimedia work, Soldier Songs, by acclaimed composer David T. Little, April 5–6, 2019 at the historic Paramount Theatre in the heart of downtown Austin.

Soldier Songs combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused concert music, and video by filmmaker Bill Morrison to explore themes of loss, the exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. 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. It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war-machine culture, and of the nature of power in war.

The Opera ATX presentation is produced by Beth Morrison Projects, which has been hailed as a “contemporary opera mastermind” (Los Angeles Times) and “the edge of innovation…its own genre” (Opera News). The opera features baritone David Adam Moore, who starred in the premiere of this production. The guest chamber ensemble Newspeak, a mainstay of the New York indie-classical scene, is conducted by Todd Reynolds, and the evening is directed by Ashley Tata, all in their Austin Opera debuts.

With its poignant libretto, driving music, and surprising visual counterpoint, Soldier Songs perfectly represents the promise of Opera ATX: bringing innovative new works, sensational artists, and visionary creative teams to Austin.

Approximately one hour; performed without intermission

Read more about the launch of Opera ATX and the Five Weeks of Opera Punchcard here.

Plan your Opera ATX experience here.

David Little Headshot

David T. Little*
Music and Text

Beth Morrison*
Producer

Ashley Tata*
Stage Director

Production

Music and Text: David T. Little*
With Film By: Bill Morrison*
Production by: Beth Morrison Projects*
Conductor: Todd Reynolds*
Stage Director: Ashely Tata*

In English

*Austin Opera debut

Soldier Songs contrasts the perceptions and realities of a soldier from the age of six through sixty-six. Based on interviews with veterans, and the culmination of 9 years of work by composer David T. Little, Soldier Songs is constructed in three sections: Child, Warrior, and Elder, yet the movements flow seamlessly from start to finish.

CHILD

A boy first encounters war through toys and games, playing with action figures available with an arsenal of accessories. As he grows, video games replace these dolls. These games offer an immersive, combat-like experience in which the player kills countless “enemies,” and where the only consequence of the player’s death is a brief wait while the game reloads. As the boy becomes a young adult, the game becomes more real. He registers for the draft at age eighteen. Reflecting on the highly randomized selective service process from the Vietnam War, he counts each day with a passing dread at the thought of combat. Once deployed, he counts the days again, but differently: down from 365, hoping he makes it to one.

WARRIOR

The boy is now a modern-day soldier. As technology has changed the tools and language of war, it has also changed the experience of combat. The soldier creates his own soundtrack: piping heavy metal into ear buds, he recreates the feeling of the video game, shooting abstract enemies that appear as pixels on a screen. But the game becomes too real, and the brutality of war sets in. Images of death, destruction and killing that may have been exciting in action movies back home, now play out with horror before his eyes. He seeks refuge from incoming ordinance; an unbearable experience that he knows will stay with him for the rest of his life.

ELDER

The stories diverge. Veterans reflect on their experiences in combat, or discuss the challenges of reintegration into civilian life. One man reflects on the futility of an endless war. Another confronts the bereavement team sent to notify him of his son’s death in combat. The opera concludes with recorded interviews—the composer’s family and friends: the soldiers who inspired this work—as our soldier opens his mouth to tell his story.

by David T. Little

Download the libretto here.

Overview

In celebration of its bold new artistic initiative, Opera ATX, Austin Opera is proud to present the Central Texas premiere of an innovative new multimedia work, Soldier Songs, by acclaimed composer David T. Little, April 5–6, 2019 at the historic Paramount Theatre in the heart of downtown Austin.

Soldier Songs combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused concert music, and video by filmmaker Bill Morrison to explore themes of loss, the exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. 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. It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war-machine culture, and of the nature of power in war.

The Opera ATX presentation is produced by Beth Morrison Projects, which has been hailed as a “contemporary opera mastermind” (Los Angeles Times) and “the edge of innovation…its own genre” (Opera News). The opera features baritone David Adam Moore, who starred in the premiere of this production. The guest chamber ensemble Newspeak, a mainstay of the New York indie-classical scene, is conducted by Todd Reynolds, and the evening is directed by Ashley Tata, all in their Austin Opera debuts.

With its poignant libretto, driving music, and surprising visual counterpoint, Soldier Songs perfectly represents the promise of Opera ATX: bringing innovative new works, sensational artists, and visionary creative teams to Austin.

Approximately one hour; performed without intermission

Read more about the launch of Opera ATX and the Five Weeks of Opera Punchcard here.

Plan your Opera ATX experience here.

Cast and Production
David Little Headshot

David T. Little*
Music and Text

Beth Morrison*
Producer

Ashley Tata*
Stage Director

Production

Music and Text: David T. Little*
With Film By: Bill Morrison*
Production by: Beth Morrison Projects*
Conductor: Todd Reynolds*
Stage Director: Ashely Tata*

In English

*Austin Opera debut

Synopsis

Soldier Songs contrasts the perceptions and realities of a soldier from the age of six through sixty-six. Based on interviews with veterans, and the culmination of 9 years of work by composer David T. Little, Soldier Songs is constructed in three sections: Child, Warrior, and Elder, yet the movements flow seamlessly from start to finish.

CHILD

A boy first encounters war through toys and games, playing with action figures available with an arsenal of accessories. As he grows, video games replace these dolls. These games offer an immersive, combat-like experience in which the player kills countless “enemies,” and where the only consequence of the player’s death is a brief wait while the game reloads. As the boy becomes a young adult, the game becomes more real. He registers for the draft at age eighteen. Reflecting on the highly randomized selective service process from the Vietnam War, he counts each day with a passing dread at the thought of combat. Once deployed, he counts the days again, but differently: down from 365, hoping he makes it to one.

WARRIOR

The boy is now a modern-day soldier. As technology has changed the tools and language of war, it has also changed the experience of combat. The soldier creates his own soundtrack: piping heavy metal into ear buds, he recreates the feeling of the video game, shooting abstract enemies that appear as pixels on a screen. But the game becomes too real, and the brutality of war sets in. Images of death, destruction and killing that may have been exciting in action movies back home, now play out with horror before his eyes. He seeks refuge from incoming ordinance; an unbearable experience that he knows will stay with him for the rest of his life.

ELDER

The stories diverge. Veterans reflect on their experiences in combat, or discuss the challenges of reintegration into civilian life. One man reflects on the futility of an endless war. Another confronts the bereavement team sent to notify him of his son’s death in combat. The opera concludes with recorded interviews—the composer’s family and friends: the soldiers who inspired this work—as our soldier opens his mouth to tell his story.

by David T. Little

Media
Libretto

Download the libretto here.

8:00PM, Friday, April 5, 2019
Paramount Theater
713 Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78701
8:00PM, Saturday, April 6, 2019
Paramount Theater
713 Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78701
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