• Missy Mazzoli
  • The Listeners

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)

Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Norwegian National Opera

  • 2(II:pic).2.2(II:bcl).2(II:cbn)/4.2.2.1/2perc/pf.hp/str
  • Royce Vavrek, based on an original story by Jordan Tannahill
  • English

Programme Note

Synopsis
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.

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.)