Balboa Theatre
868 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Fri, Nov 11 at 7pm
Sat, Nov 12 at 7pm
Sun, Nov 13 at 2pm


by David T. Little


All performances at The Balboa Theatre

“…from boyhood sandbox skirmishes and first-person-shooter video games to the terror of actual battle and the anguished loss that comes in its wake.”

War. To those who experience it from the comfort of their living rooms, they have no idea. For those who have experienced it first hand, we have no idea. Now is the time to crack open the door to understanding and conversation in Soldier Songs.

Gripping and realistic, Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of 6 to the age of 66. We follow the lead character through the phases of life from boy to man: playing war games and violent video games as a youth, enlisting and serving in the military, the real-life horrors of war and a father whose worst fears are realized with the news of the death of his son. Adapted from interviews with veterans of five wars, explore the ideas versus the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the “seemingly impossible” of expressing the truth of war. Soldier Songs contains strobe lights, strong language, simulated gunshots, explosions, and other combat-like sounds and visual effects.

All Soldier Songs performances include the 55-minute opera, a brief intermission, and "Act II," a 30- to 40-minute panel discussion including three veterans.

Quotes: Opera News, The New York Times

Soldier Songs originated at The Atlanta Opera. Photo: Raftermen Photography Production design: GLMMR. Set, Video, Costume design: Vita Tzykun | David Adam Moore. Lighting design: Maxwell Bowman.

There will be no pre-performance lecture prior to the performances of Soldier Songs


Soldier Songs is an evening-length multimedia event from composer David T. Little that combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused-concert music, and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. Music can be easily co-opted to serve a political or ideological message or it can equally be a vehicle for reflection, engagement, and emotional connection, as is seen in this gripping music-theatre work.

The Libretto, created by the composer, was adapted from recorded interviews with veterans of 5 wars*. Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of 6 to the age of 66. We follow the abstract character through the three phases of life: Youth (playing war games) Warrior (time served in the military) and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).

It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war machine culture, and of the nature of power in war. Each of the eleven songs explores a different aspect of the experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief. Multi-media is employed less as a collection of recorded evidence and more as a critique of the media’s ability to both glamorize and falsify the truth of combat.

Soldier Songs asks the tough questions and tells the tough stories through its poignant libretto, driving and devastating music, and surprising visual counterpoint. The tension between the visual and aural experience of our production works to dispel the numbness felt by those of us lucky enough to only experience war through the comfort of our living rooms.

Originally commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which premiered the work in 2006, Soldier Songs received its workshop premiere in New York on 2008 by Beth Morrison Projects, and directed by Yuval Sharon. The full world premiere production took place in 2011 at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT.

*The composition is based on interviews with the following individuals:
Justen Bennet (US Army, Iraq)
Amber Ferenz (US Army, Pre-9/11)
Richard Girardin (US Marine Corps, Laos)
Gene Little (US Army, Vietnam, Cambodia)
Joseph W. Little (US Army, WWII – Germany)
Eugene F. Woznicki (US Air Force, Cold War)

Courtesy of Atlanta Opera

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