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April 17, 2012

Peabody composer's Pulitzer should be noted by Lyric Opera Baltimore

Monday' brought the great news that Kevin Puts, a terrifically gifted composer who teaches at the Peabody Conservatory, had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music for his first opera "Silent Night." Tuesday, the folks over at Lyric Opera Baltimore should be meeting intently to discuss plans for producing that work soon.

"Silent Night" is based on the haunting film "Joyeux Noel" about the Christmas in 1914 on the front lines of World War I when German, French and British troops stopped the senseless slaughter long enough to celebrate the holiday with each other.

So here's the idea, Lyric Opera: The Baltimore premiere of "Silent Night" in December 2014, 100 years after that remarkable moment in the otherwise dreadful history of the War to End All Wars. How about it?

To begin with, it's ...

a natural marketing hook. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of that. And it would be great way for the company to signal that it will be more than just another mausoleum-type organization, devoted solely to tried-and-true music of the past.

Most importantly, Puts and "Silent Night" deserve to receive the local attention.

This composer connects with listeners on a visceral level, which is why his orchestral works are so successful and why audiences at the Minnesota Opera premiere of "Silent Night" last November responded so enthusiastically.

Here's a taste of what we could be enjoying here if folks with a little courage (and a lot of generous underwriting) could be found:

Posted by Tim Smith at 8:10 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Clef Notes


Great idea. Let it be so!

Here's popping champagne for Peabody's Kevin Puts. I can't wait to experience the complete opera.

Tim, this may be your greatest idea yet, especially about when to produce it and the marketing angle.

Thank you so much for posting this, Tim. It is truly beautiful, and it led me to several other brief excerpts from the opera available on You Tube. Which was wonderful, as I have not yet met my Peabody colleague, and missed the showing of the opera he arranged for his students. Roger.

The whole opera (audio) is available online, thanks to Minnesota Opera and Minnesota Public Radio.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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