All Is Calm
Coming to Lebanon Opera House
Two years ago I was looking for a holiday experience that honored the season in a new and unexpected way. I went to see Opera North’s All Is Calm.
This year, Opera North is returning to the Upper Valley with two performances of All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 at Lebanon Opera House on December 11 and 12. The opera details a stunning real-life occurrence during World War I, when warring forces called an improbable temporary truce on Christmas. The opera’s creator, Peter Rothstein, describes the ceasefire that inspired his work: “This extraordinary event took place in 1914, the first year of the war, and was never repeated. Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in No Man’s Land. They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum, and chocolates, even photographs of loved ones. They sang songs, played a game of soccer, and buried each other’s dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years.”
All Is Calm is sung in French, German, and English. Its text is drawn from soldiers’ letters, news reports, and other documentary memorabilia from the era. The staging is traditionally spare, depicting the foggy No Man’s Land where troops were gathered near Ypres, Belgium. A German soldier began the temporary peace by stepping forward and singing “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night). Audience members will hear other familiar tunes, including—because what could be more perfect—a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”
All Is Calm is a good choice for opera lovers and an even better one for those for whom opera may seem difficult to approach. The plot is straightforward, language is no barrier here; the running time is just over an hour. The mood is balanced, with the horror of war tempered by the human impulses of those upon whom war is thrust. Its treatment of deadly conflict is serious but not gruesome. The fragile camaraderie among the soldiers in opposing camps is sweet, but never treacly.
For further information about tickets, and Covid protocols at Lebanon Opera House, please click here. Recommended for adults and children 13 years of age and older. (Artwork, top, courtesy of Opera North)
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.