May 16-23: Michael Christie Conducts Pulitzer-Prize Winning Opera Silent Night at Opera de Montreal
(via Christina Jensen PR)
Conductor Michael Christie
Leads Opera de Montréal in
Pulitzer Prize-winning opera
Silent Night by Kevin Puts
Libretto by Mark Campbell
Based on the Oscar-nominated film Joyeux Nöel
“Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge.” – The New York Times
Montréal, Canada — From May 16-23, 2015 conductor Michael Christie will lead Opera de Montréal in performances of composer Kevin Puts’ 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night. Silent Night, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, includes scenes sung in German, French, English, Italian and Latin and is based on Joyeux Nöel, a 2005 Oscar-nominated film by Christian Carion.
The work was commissioned and premiered by Minnesota Opera in 2011, with Michael Christie, who is the Music Director of the company, leading the premiere performances as well as subsequent performances with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Wexford Festival Opera. The Minnesota Opera’s premiere production of Silent Night led by Christie was broadcast nationally in the US in December 2013 on PBS. When Christie led the opera in 2013 with Opera Company of Philadelphia, The New York Times praised his, “supple pacing and vitality.” Pulitzer officials described Silent Night as, “a stirring opera that recounts the true story of a spontaneous cease-fire among Scottish, French and Germans during World War I, displaying versatility of style and cutting straight to the heart.”
Michael Christie and Kevin Puts continued their collaboration in 2015 at Minnesota Opera with the world premiere production of Puts’ newest opera The Manchurian Candidate, also featuring a libretto by Mark Campbell and based on the novel by Richard Condon. An advocate and partner to composers in bringing new works to life, Christie has also led premiere productions of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (San Francisco Opera) and “27” by Ricky Ian Gordon (Opera Theatre of St. Louis). Notable past engagements include highly praised productions of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, and the North American premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, all with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; and the European premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles at the Wexford Festival Opera.
The Opera de Montréal cast of Silent Night includes Marianne Fiset (Anna Sørensen), Joseph Kaiser (Nikolaus Sprink), Phillip Addis (Lieutenant Audebert), Alexander Hajek (Lieutenant Gordon), Daniel Okulitch (Lieutenant Horstmayer), Alexandre Sylvestre (Ponchel), Aaron Sheppard (Kronprinz), France Bellemare (Madeleine Audebert), Jeremy Bowes (General Audebert), Tom Goerz (Father Palmer), Geoffrey Sirett (William Dale), Christopher Enns (Jonathan Dale), Chad Louwerse (British Major).
Michael Christie is a thoughtfully innovative conductor, equally at home in the symphonic and opera worlds, who is focused on making the audience experience at his performances entertaining, enlightening, and enriching. The New York Times reports, “Michael Christie is a director open to adventure and challenge,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer declares, “If Michael Christie represents the future of music in this country, the future looks promising indeed.”
Christie, who was featured in Opera News in August 2012 as one of 25 people believed to “to break out and become major forces in the field in the coming decade,” began his tenure as the first-ever Music Director of the Minnesota Opera with the 2012-13 season. His 16-year symphonic conducting career has included serving as Music Director of the Phoenix Symphony (2005-2013) and Brooklyn Philharmonic (2005-2010), and as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Orchestra (2001-2004) in Australia, as well as guest appearances leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonies of Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Oregon, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. His New York Philharmonic debut came in March 2007 when he stepped in on short notice for an ailing Riccardo Muti, and his Carnegie Hall debut came in 2014 when he led the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Spring for Music festival. Christie also served as the Music Director of the Colorado Music Festival from 2000-2013, where he was highly praised for his innovative programming, resulting in him being named “Musician of the Year” by The Denver Post in 2010.
Christie’s many European engagements have included leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Orchestre National de Lille, Swedish and Netherlands Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, NDR Hannover Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. In addition, Christie enjoys a strong profile in Australia, where he has conducted the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Opera Queensland, and the Western Australian Symphony in Perth.
Michael Christie first came to international attention in 1995 when he was awarded a special prize for “Outstanding Potential” at the First International Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki. Following the competition, he was invited to become an apprentice conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he subsequently worked with Daniel Barenboim as well as at the Berlin State Opera during the 1996-1997 season. Christie graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance. He is married to Alexis, a physician, and they have a daughter, Sinclair, and a son, Beckett. For more information, visit www.
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his debut opera Silent Night, Kevin Puts has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation. Critically acclaimed for his distinctive and richly colored musical voice, Puts’ impressive body of work includes four symphonies as well as several concertos written for some of today’s top soloists. His newest work, The City (Symphony No. 5), co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in honor of its 100th anniversary and by Carnegie Hall in honor of their 125th anniversary, will receive its premiere in Baltimore and New York in April 2016.
In 2013, his choral works To Touch The Sky and If I Were A Swan were performed by Conspirare, and a recording was released by the Harmonia Mundi label. The recording includes a performance of his Symphony No. 4: From Mission San Juan, performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop. In addition to the premiere of The Manchurian Candidate in March 2015, , that same month, his Carnegie Hall-commissioned song cycle Of All The Moons was performed by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke. His first chamber opera, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s gothic novel The Trial of Elizabeth Cree commissioned by Opera Philadelphia will have its premiere in 2017.
His orchestral works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by leading orchestras and ensembles throughout North America, Europe and the Far East, including the New York Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchester (Zurich), the Boston Pops, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Miro Quartet, Cypress Quartet, Conspirare, the Eroica Trio, Eighth Blackbird, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, St. Louis, and Minnesota. In 2005, in celebration of David Zinman’s 70th birthday, he was commissioned to write Vision, a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra. During the same year, Dame Evelyn Glennie premiered his Percussion Concerto with the Pacific and Utah Symphonies. In 2008, his piano concerto Night, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and premiered by pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane.
Puts has received prestigious awards and grants from the Butler School of Music of the University of Texas at Austin, the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP. Puts received his training as a composer and pianist at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute, and currently is the Director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Puts received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, his Master’s Degree from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music.