Fun Facts About Kevin Puts’ ‘Elizabeth Cree’ & The Crypt Sessions

By Francisco Salazar

“The only thing alive in a Crypt is the sound,” said Mark Campbell during a preview presentation of “Elizabeth Cree.” And right he was as Daniela Mack and Joseph Gaines’ voices rang through the crypt first performing selections from Britten and Poulenc and later from the new work at the Crypt Sessions.

The evening was filled with good wine, food and most importantly, powerful music that left most listeners intrigued and interested in seeing the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ upcoming opera at Opera Philadelphia this fall.

So what did we learn?

Puts and Campbell collaborations 

Elizabeth Cree marks the third opera between librettist Mark Campbell and composer Kevin Puts. The two previously collaborated on “Silent Night,” which won the Pulitzer and is regarded as one of the greatest operas of modern times. They also worked on “The Manchurian Candidate.”

What is Elizabeth Cree? 

‘Elizabeth’ was described by Puts and Campbell as a chamber opera that lasts 90 minutes. Campbell noted that when he first read the novel and thought about writing the opera he thought, audiences would laugh. The result was a grizzly opera with murder. Although those murders were not shown at the preview, there were some traces of the dark tones as well as some interesting comic moments.

Wine and Opera 

The Crypt Sessions teams up with Magnvm Opvs to pick wines based on the singer’s voices. For Joseph Gaines’ light lyric tenor a Heitz Cellar Grignolino 2014 was chosen. The wine is described as being light and floral between a rich rose and a light bodied Pinot Noir.

For Daniela Mack’s darker toned and full-voiced mezzo a Weinert Malbec 2006 from Argentina was chosen. The wine had a dryer savor that perfectly matched Mack’s rich and round sound.


Kevin Puts explained that throughout the opera there will be themes that represent Elizabeth. According to Puts, the opera will begin with an emphatic motive that will carry through Cree’s first aria and later through the opera.


Puts and Campbell put together a medley of arias and duets from the opera that showcased both Mack and Gaines’ voices but also put on display their acting skills as well as chemistry. It also presented the melodic music that Puts has written for the work. The medley was made up of five pieces that were enthusiastically met by audiences.