Opera is, perhaps, in many people’s minds a thing of the past. Though opera houses continue to put on productions, we might think that all these shows were written many decades, or even centuries, ago. While Mozart and Donizetti, Puccini and Verdi continue to be among the most popular composers, there are indeed new operas commissioned every year. The Minnesota Opera’s 2011-2012 season, for instance, will include a world premiere of “Silent Night,” composed by Kevin Puts.

This opera is based on the true story of a 1914 Christmas Eve ceasefire between the Scottish, French, and German soldiers on the western front. This ceasefire was unauthorized and lasted just the one night, but is remembered as a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome hostility. The opera will be sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin.

Here is the ceasefire dramatized in a 2005 French film, Joyeux Noël (not great quality, but with subtitles):