Theatre Faculty Member Marcus Dilliard's work broadcast on PBS World Premiere of "Silent Night" by Minnesota Opera
On Friday, December 13, 8pm CST, as spotlights bring the stage to life for the national PBS broadcast of Minnesota Opera's Silent Night, the production's lighting designer Marcus Dilliard, who also heads U of M's Theatre Arts graduate program in Theatre Design and Technology, can smile with a sense of accomplishment.
"Silent Night has been quite the journey--starting in St. Paul, then on to Philadelphia, and now sharing it nationwide," said Dilliard, who has designed for opera, theatre and dance across North America and in Europe. His numerous Minnesota productions include work for the Guthrie Theater, Theatre Latte Da, Children's Theater Company, Minnesota Dance Theater and Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Recent designs include Born Yesterday for The Guthrie Theater, The Tempest and Metamorphoses for PlayMakers Repertory Company, Steerage Song for Theatre Latte Da, The Mikado for Lyric Opera Kansas City and Cosi fan Tutte for Boston Lyric Opera.
In the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winning opera Silent Night, composer Kevin Puts recalls an incident during World War I in which Scottish, French and German soldiers negotiate a Christmas truce and share their provisions and personal stories. The opera's libretto, by Mark Campbell, is in English, German, French, Italian and Latin. It was commissioned, and then developed through the Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative with the Philadelphia Opera Company.
While press notices were very enthusiastic for Silent Night as a whole, one reporter commented that Dillard created "a vibrant lighting display... capable of shifting from the chaos of battle to the tranquility of evening" (examiner.com). Another remarked the production was "evocatively lit by Dilliard" (Lorenzo Bassi, GB Opera).
"Theatre -- but especially opera -- is always a rich collaboration of artists," noted Mr. Dilliard. "Every production is a unique experience, but giving life to a new work like Silent Night is particularly challenging and rewarding. Each production element needs to be in harmony, working together, always telling the story."
In a related item, Mr. Dillard's lighting design supports Theatre Latte Da's production All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, in another portrayal of the ceasefire, at Minneapolis' PantagesTheater this holiday season.