soldier songs

Music and libretto by David T. Little • December 11, 2020

*Due to COVID-19 concerns, Soldier Songs was presented as a livestream only. We did not host in-person performances. We would have loved to have patrons in our theater again to see this opera in-person, but we recognized social gatherings were not practical given the significant spike in COVID-19 cases in the area. We welcomed all to join us on Friday, December 11th, 2020 for a free livestreamed performance of Soldier Songs, broadcast on our Facebook and YouTube channels.*

Soldier Songs combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused-concert music, and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of the Soldier, the loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war.

The libretto by composer David T. Little was adapted from recorded interviews with veterans of five wars. Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of 6 to the age of 66. We follow the abstract character through the three phases of life: Youth (playing war games), Warrior (time served in the military), and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).

Each of the eleven songs in the production explores a different aspect of the soldier’s experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief. Multi-media is employed as a critique of the media’s ability to both glamorize and falsify the truth of combat.  

Soldier Songs asks tough questions and tells tough stories through its poignant libretto, driving and devastating music, and surprising visual counterpoint. The tension between the visual and aural experience works to dispel any potential numbness felt by those lucky enough to only experience war through the comfort of their living rooms.

Originally commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which premiered the work in 2006, Soldier Songs received its workshop premiere in New York on 2008 by Beth Morrison Projects, and directed by Yuval Sharon. The full world premiere production took place in 2011 at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT. Pittsburgh Opera’s performances are by arrangement with Hendon Music, Inc., a Boosey & Hawkes company, publisher and copyright owner.

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The Soldier hums, unable to articulate his thoughts. Photo credit: David Bachman

"I wanna be a real American hero!" Photo credit: David Bachman

"Boom, bang, dead." Photo credit: David Bachman

"I listen to Metallica to keep me in a rage!" Photo credit: David Bachman

The Soldier mourns his fallen son. Photo credit: David Bachman

Cast and Artistic Team


Audio Preview Excerpts

Details and Resources