Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, Norwegian National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago

Based on the story by Jordan Tannahill

  • 2(II:pic).2.2(II:bcl).2(II:cbn)/
  • 1 hr 55 min
  • Royce Vavrek, based on an original story by Jordan Tannahill
  • English

Programme Note

A middle-class mother living in a southwestern U.S. 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.

The Listeners examines the lengths to which we, as Americans, 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.)



Full score
Vocal score


  • New Opera Highlights from Wise Music Classical
    • New Opera Highlights from Wise Music Classical
    • Wise Music Classical invites you to explore new highlights from our opera catalogue. In these recent and upcoming premieres, new productions, and premiere recordings, our composers and their creative collaborators explore subjects ranging from the historical (Hadrian, X: The Life and Times of Malcom X, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) to the futuristic (Oryx and Crake), the fantastic (El Ultimo Sueño de Frida y Diego, Florencia en el Amazonas, Die Kinder des Sultans) to the thoroughly contemporary (Grounded, Blue, Innocence, The Shell Trial). Threaded throughout these works are perennial themes of loss, longing, magic, art-making, and community.


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