• 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

"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."

   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.)