Opera Sunderland to Present World Premiere of ‘The Soldier’s Return’

By David Salazar

Opera Sunderland will stream the world premiere of “The Soldier’s Return” on Nov. 8, 2020.

The new opera is inspired by present-day war veterans’ real-life experiences and is drawn from interviews with local people involved in past, recent, and ongoing combat situations. Among the themes explored in the opera are the impact of conflict when soldiers return home on not only themselves but also their families and communities.

The film-opera was made in collaboration with Meerkat Films and sound engineer Ian Stephenson at Simpson Street Studios. The opera was composed by Marcos Fernandez-Barrerro and written by Jacob Polley.

The film was directed by Annie Rigby. Marco Romano conducted a cast including baritone Ian Priestley as The Man, mezzo-soprano Katherine Aitken as The Woman, tenor Austin Gunn as Voice 1, and bass-baritone Andri Björn Róbertsson as Voice 2.

“We wanted to honor the commitment to our community participants, our artists, team, and funders by taking a radical, lateral view of the situation. So we came up with a new and completely safe way of making the production that we hope will prove to be even more inclusive and accessible than our original plan to stage the opera live here in Sunderland,” said Artistic Director Alison Barton in a press release. “Social distancing rules have meant taking an approach more akin to producing a pop video than an opera, but although it’s quite an experimental approach in the classical music world, it is tried and tested in other genres such as pop and rock. It’s a case of the show must go on, and it will!”