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NEWS: New opera gives a voice to modern day Wearside veterans

New opera gives a voice to modern day Wearside veterans

Marking the Great War Armistice Centenary and 100 years since the premiere of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, Opera Sunderland announce a brand new opera giving modern day war veterans a voice.

Opera Sunderland has commissioned a contemporary companion piece to Stravinsky’s response to the events of World War I which premiered in 1918. Inspired by present day war veterans’ real life experiences, The Soldier’s    Return is drawn from interviews with local people involved in recent and ongoing combat situations. It explores the impact of conflict when soldiers return home, not only on the soldiers themselves, but also their families and the wider community.

The Soldier's Tale, Opera Sunderland creative team
at Sunderland War Memorial
TS Eliot Prize winner and 2018 Durham Book Festival Poet Laureate, Jacob Polley has written the libretto. The Soldier’s Return follows the success of MIRACLE! An Opera of Two Halves written by David Almond which premiered in Sunderland in 2015 and Opera Sunderland has brought together many of the same artistic team, including Artistic Director Alison Barton, international award-winning composer Marcos Fernandez, Director Annie Rigby and Musical Director Marco Romano. 

Director Annie Rigby said, “I was really struck, in talking to veterans, about how they felt civilians didn’t really understand their experiences. Although we might imagine the experiences of servicemen and women, somehow our imaginations don’t get close to the reality of what it’s like to be in active service, away from home. This opera, built out of the interviews we carried out, aims to explore that distance between home and away, between comradeship and family, and share their experiences with a public audience.

Formerly known as Music in the Minster, Opera Sunderland is a registered charity that believes opera is for everyone, making it available, attractive and accessible by creating exciting opportunities for the people of Sunderland. The commission is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and as with all of Opera Sunderland’s work, The Soldier’s Return is about local people taking part – from sharing their stories, to workshops and performance opportunities. 

Photo: North News & Pictures

The Soldier’s Return will premiere at Sunderland Minster in November 2019.  More details, including how to take part, will be available in spring 2019. For the latest updates by email, sign up to Opera Sunderland’s mailing list at

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