“The Listeners is the largest and most ambitious opera I've written to date.“
— Missy Mazzoli
From September 24 to October 9, Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek unveil their latest opera The Listeners at the Norwegian National Opera. The opening night performance will be a featured event at the Ultima Festival of Contemporary Music.
The Listeners is a thriller about social rejection, and the abuse of power and echo chambers. Based on an original story by Jordan Tannahill, the story is inspired by an actual phenomenon called “the global hum,” a low-pitched sound that people around the world claim to hear.
Lileana Blain-Cruz, Resident Director at Lincoln Center Theater, directs the production which is designed by Tony-award winner Adam Rigg and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly. Ilan Volkov conducts the Norwegian National Opera orchestra and chorus. Nicole Heaston, Simon Neal, Eirik Grøtvedt, and Frøy Hovland Holtbakk are featured in lead roles of the production.
“It’s both a psychological thriller and an intimate portrait of modern family life,” remarks the composer. “From the first words that are sung – ‘This is how we live now. Unbelievable.’ – to the shocking final twist, this piece has been a joy to write and a thrill to bring to life with our amazing creative team, led by director Lileana Blain-Cruz. Jordan Tannahill’s story and Royce Vavrek’s libretto cut through to the reality of the chaos and longing that roils underneath every seemingly ‘normal’ family, and in the hearts of everyone who dares to pursue their true destiny.”
Vavrek adds that “The Listeners is an opera that is in dialogue with our 21st century experience, a work that seeks to illuminate what it means to be a citizen of the world right now.”
The opera is co-commissioned and co-produced with Opera Philadelphia and Chicago Lyric Opera, with American performances to be announced for future seasons. The Listeners is Mazzoli and Vavrek’s fourth opera together, having previously collaborated on Song from the Uproar, Breaking the Waves, and Proving Up.