New Jersey arts and entertainment news, features and event insights.


originally published: 02/11/2022

Since its streaming premiere in 2021, Philadelphia Opera a film by David T. Little soldier songs garnered public and critical acclaim as well as major awards. Called “a worthy addition to the all-too-light catalog of opera presented in cinematic form” by the New York Times and “a remarkable achievement” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the film was nominated for the 2021 GRAMMY Award for Best Opera Recording, and this month is a finalist for both the 2022 International Opera Award for Best Opera Digital and Opera America’s First Digital Excellence in Opera Awards.

The film, titled “an immersive experience that takes audiences on a terrifying dive into the mind of a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder” by the the wall street journal, will reach an even wider audience as it screens this month at five area theaters: Thursday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Chester County; and Saturday, November 12 at 1:00 p.m. at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Delaware County; Doylestown County Theatre, Bucks County; Ambler Theater in Montgomery County; and Princeton Garden Theater in Princeton, NJ.

Based on interviews with veterans of five wars, Soldier Songs weaves opera, rock and film into a moving and innovative examination of the trauma, exploitation and difficulty of expressing the painful truths of war. 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, at the site of a major Revolutionary War battle of 1777.

The feature is accompanied by Opera Philadelphia’s 2021 short TakTakShoo, composer Rene Orth’s fusion of opera and K-pop, marimba, electronics and dance, which creates an eclectic world of sound and movement. 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 again and is directed by Emmy-nominated director and choreographer Jeffrey L. Page.

Philadelphia Operathe 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 21st century opera, the company is recognized as “a hotbed of lyrical innovation” (New York Times).

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