By December 1914, the horrific carnage and conditions of the World War I, called “the war to end all wars,” was established in a series of hellish trenches occupied by troops along The Western Front, an area including parts of Belgium, north-eastern France and Luxembourg. The warring armies were separated by “no man’s land,” an area of scorched earth only 250 yards wide criss-crossed by barbed wire and water-filled shell holes where men were dying by the 1,000s among piles of decaying corpses.
“When you begin to see your enemy as a human being, then war becomes unsustainable.” – Mark Campbell
Leaders on both sides rejected the idea of a Christmas truce, but the warring soldiers had another idea and on Christmas Eve 1914, joined together in an informal night of peace culminating in a multilingual spontaneous singing of the beloved carol, “Silent Night.” Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music, Silent Night is an American opera based on the 2005 screenplay, Joyeux Noël. In January of 2020, Tomer Zvulun will make his Utah Opera debut directing the acclaimed production, sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin with English supertitles. Librettist Mark Campbell says, “In the midst of a devastating war, these soldiers demonstrated beautiful audacity as they put down their guns, shared personal pictures, whiskey and played music with each other.”
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