‘Redefining Opera on Stage and Screen’: Colonial Theatre to Present Renowned Films From Opera Philadelphia

Black Lodge Opera Philadelphia film
Image via Opera Philadelphia.
Image from the film 'Black Lodge.'

Following the success of September’s Festival O22 presentation of live opera productions alongside opera films, “redefining opera on stage and screen” according to the Wall Street Journal, Opera Philadelphia will bring its renowned films to five regional movie theaters including the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, offering audiences an opportunity to appreciate the intersection of two art forms. 

The theatrical screening program begins in November with the GRAMMY-nominated 2021 film of David T. Little’s Soldier Songs, called “a worthy addition to the far-too-slight catalog of opera presented in cinematic form” by the New York Times. December brings James Darrah’s 2021 film of Poulenc’s La voix humaine starring Patricia Racette, which tells the story of a woman grappling with grief, denial, and anger in the face of unrequited love, all shared through a one-sided telephone call. January brings the theatrical premiere of Little’s newest opera Black Lodge, a Twin Peaks-inspired 2022 film “pushing the boundaries of what opera is” (Broadway World).  

Soldier Songs 

Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7 PM

Based on interviews with veterans from five wars, David T. Little’s Grammy-nominated Soldier Songs weaves opera, rock, and film into a stirring and innovative examination of trauma, exploitation, and the difficulty of expressing war’s painful truths. Baritone Johnathan McCullough directs and stars as the Soldier in the film the New York Times called “a worthy addition to the far-too-slight catalog of opera presented in cinematic form.” Filmed on location at the Brandywine Conservancy in Chester County by the site of a significant Revolutionary War battle of 1777. 

La voix humaine 

Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 PM

Described by composer Francis Poulenc as “a musical confession,” La voix humaine tells the story of one woman as she grapples with grief, denial, and anger in the face of unrequited love, all expressed through one side of a telephone call. The role of Elle, the lone character in the monodrama, has been called a true tour de force for soprano Patricia Racette. Filmed at the gilded Elkins Estate in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, this new cinematic interpretation imbues Poulenc’s intimate 1958 musical creation with even greater psychological insight and nuance. 

Black Lodge 

Saturday, Jan. 21, at 1 PM

“Be careful what you need to know,” warns the protagonist of David T. Little’s surrealist cinematic opera. Blending classical music with goth rock (and with a nod to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks), Black Lodge is a journey into magic, mystery, regret, and redemption.  

Set in a nightmarish Bardo, a place between death and rebirth, a tormented writer (the charismatic Timur) faces down demons of his own making. Forced to confront the darkest moment in his life, he mines fractured and repressed memories for a way out. A woman (Jennifer Harrison Newman) is at the center of all the writer’s afterlife encounters. She is the subject of his life’s greatest regret, and she materializes everywhere in this Otherworld. The writer cannot detach any thoughts of his life from her. Produced by Beth Morrison Projects, the bold film features a libretto by legendary poetAnne Waldman and story, screenplay, and direction by Michael Joseph McQuilken. 

The feature film is accompanied by Opera Philadelphia’s 2021 short film We Need to Talk from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw and director Maureen Towey, starring soprano Ariadne Greif.  

Ticket available soon. All films to be shown at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville.

Learn more about the Colonial Theatre.

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