MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Missy Mazzoli’s The Listeners

As a huge fan of Missy Mazzoli, I’d meant to post this wonderful gift from Den Norske Opera & Ballett but let it slip through the cracks. The company recently made this recording of its world premiere production of her latest opera, The Listeners, available on YouTube until 12 May 2023.

Premiered last September as part of the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, The Listeners continues Mazzoli’s longstanding collaboration with the librettist Royce Vavrek. They developed an original story by Jordan Tannahill based on the phenomenon of the “global hum,” the dynamics of cults, and the abuse of power.

Synopsis from Den Norske Opera’s website:

“The Listeners” follows Claire, a suburban high school teacher living in the southwestern United States. Her life spirals out of control when she begins to hear a mysterious low-frequency hum. The Hum keeps her awake at night and threatens her sanity, but she finds an ally in Kyle, a student who also hears the all-consuming noise. When Kyle discovers a group that meets regularly in hopes of understanding and eliminating the source of the Hum, Claire is optimistic that this might be a turning point in her crisis. The group is led by the charismatic Howard Bard and his second-in-command Angela, who provide a compassionate environment for the beleaguered Claire and Kyle.

As the group grows in number the meetings devolve into strange, ritualistic behavior. When former soldier Dillon is expelled from the group after suggesting that the noise is a government conspiracy, he attempts to shoot down a mobile phone tower. He is arrested and criminal attention is placed on Howard and the cult of Listeners. The group explodes when it is revealed that Howard has abused his power and manipulated the members. Claire, armed with newfound confidence, picks up the pieces in an effort to harness the power of the Hum.

Filed under: Missy Mazzoli, music news, new opera

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