On March 19, 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq. The following year, then 26-year-old David T. Little began work on Soldier Songs, a rock-tinged contemporary opera that explores the impact of war on veterans. “I had a number of childhood friends who had enlisted,” says Little, now composer-in-residence for Opera Philadelphia. “I began thinking about how it was that people who I grew up with in New Jersey ended up in Iraq while I ended up in grad school at Princeton.”
To inform his understanding of military experience, Little began interviewing friends and family members who had served, eventually speaking to veterans from five conflicts, from WWII through Iraq. “None had really talked about their experiences before, especially to someone outside the military,” says Little. “The piece acknowledges that this is a very difficult discussion to have. [But] to me, it’s important to stare difficult topics in the face, and to acknowledge that we may not find answers, but there’s value in the asking.”
On the calendar: The Atlanta Opera stages the Southeast premiere of David T. Little’s rock opera on November 11-12 and November 14-15.
This article originally appeared in our November 2015 issue under the headline “Battle Scars.”