Since its 2021 streaming premiere, Opera Philadelphia’s film of David T. Little’s Soldier Songs has collected audience and critical acclaim as well as major award recognition. Called “a worthy addition to the far-too-slight catalog of opera presented in cinematic form” by the New York Times and “a standout achievement” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the film was nominated for the 2021 GRAMMY Award for Best Opera Recording, and this month it is a finalist for both the 2022 International Opera Award for Best Digital Opera and the inaugural Awards for Digital Excellence in Opera from Opera America.
The film, called “an immersive experience that takes the audience on a terrifying dive into the mind of a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder” by the Wall Street Journal, will reach an even larger audience as it screens this month in five area movie theaters: on Thursday, November 10 at 7:00pm at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, Chester County; and on Saturday, November 12 at 1:00pm at Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Delaware County; County Theater in Doylestown, Bucks County; Ambler Theater in Montgomery County; and Princeton Garden Theatre in Princeton, NJ.
Based on interviews with veterans from five wars, Soldier Songs weaves opera, rock, and film into a stirring and innovative examination of trauma, exploitation, and the difficulty of expressing war’s painful truths. Baritone Johnathan McCullough directs and stars as the Soldier in the film, which was recorded on location at the Brandywine Conservancy in Chester County, Pennsylvania, by the site of a significant Revolutionary War battle of 1777.
The feature film is accompanied by Opera Philadelphia’s 2021 short film TakTakShoo, composer Rene Orth’s fusion of opera and K-pop, marimba, electronics, and dance, that creates an eclectic sound and movement world. With a libretto by playwright Kanika Ambrose, the film stars mezzo-soprano Kristen Choi as an energizing life force inviting people to come into the world anew and is directed by Emmy Award-nominated director and choreographer Jeffrey L. Page.
Opera Philadelphia, the only American finalist for both the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company and the 2020 International Opera Award for Best Festival, is “the very model of a modern opera company” (Washington Post). Committed to developing opera for the 21st century, the company is recognized as “a hotbed of operatic innovation” (New York Times).