• Missy Mazzoli
  • The Listeners

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • orchestra
  • soloists
  • Royce Vavrek, based on an original story by Jordan Tannahill
  • English
    • 13th March 2021, Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, Oslo, Norway
    View all

Programme Note

From FEDORA:
"The Listeners is an opera about our desperate desire to belong, our search for community and meaning, and the power of charismatic leaders who exploit these desires.

"A middle-class mother living in a southwestern US suburb notices a 'hum,' a high-frequency environmental noise that only a select few people, 'the Listeners,' can hear. A community organization quickly forms to solve the mystery of the hum, but when a de facto leader suggests a spiritual significance the meetings become increasingly cult-like, ritualized experiences. It becomes clear that this community of 'Listeners' is on a collision course of destruction.

"This opera examines the lengths to which we are willing to go in order to find a sense of place and purpose, and the way in which charismatic leaders can exploit these needs to their own ends. An enduring part of our American identity is a sense of deserved and inevitable success and happiness. When this imagined future collides with the realities and struggles of everyday life, dazzling and predatory leaders offering a 'quick fix' can easily prey on the vulnerabilities of the lonely and lost."

Cast
   CLAIRE DEVON – Female, late-forties. High school math teacher. Wife of Paul, mother of Ashley: Dramatic Soprano
   PAUL DEVON – Male, early-fifties. Lawyer. Husband of Claire and father of Ashley: Bass-baritone
   ASHLEY DEVON – Female, 17 years old. Senior high-school student, daughter of Claire and Paul: Light Lyric Soprano
   KYLE HARRIS – Male, 18 years old. Senior in high school: Tenor
   HOWARD BARD – Male, early-sixties. Retired psychiatrist. Leader of the Listeners: Bass-baritone
   ANGELA ROSE – Female, thirties, Howard’s right hand woman: Mezzo-soprano
   THOM – Male, late fifties. Engineer. A Listener: Baritone
   DILLON – Male, mid-thirties, a former solider with PTSD: Baritone
   COYOTE: Non-singing role – actor or dancer

A subset of the chorus, an ensemble of Listeners:
   SINA: Soprano
   EMILY: Mezzo-soprano
   HORTENSE – female, sixties, a chain-smoker: Contralto
   DANICA – female, late thirties, wife of Thom: Soprano
   VINCE – male, mid-twenties, a hippie stoner: Tenor
   BRAM: Bass-baritone

Comprimario Roles:
   JESS – Female, 17 years old, Ashley’s high school friend: Soprano
   LEE ANN – Female, 17 years old, Ashley’s high school friend: Mezzo-soprano
   MRS. MORENO – Female, fifties, the high school principal: Mezzo-soprano
   THERESA ALVAREZ – Female, early thirties, reporter: Soprano

Chorus: Listeners, Claire’s students
(In Act I Scene 4, 8-12 young-looking members of the chorus are onstage to represent students in Claire’s high school classroom. The remainder of the chorus sings from the pit.)