Latest News & Reviews
Gene was interviewed by Michael Slade for a feature article in Opera News (July 2014, Vol. 79, No. 1). "What makes a successful libretto? The key is its ability to immediately and continually engage the audience; to be succinct while simultaneously creating a layered story and complex characters..."
FROM THE NY TIMES: The life of the French sculptor Camille Claudel is a tangle of art, passion, madness and betrayal. A student and lover of Rodin’s, Claudel was a critically acclaimed artist when she began to show signs of mental distress, which led her family to commit her to an institution, where she spent the remaining 30 years of her life. On Thursday at Zankel Hall, the incandescent mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato presented the New York premiere of Jake Heggie’s “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire.” Set for voice and string quartet, the work compresses a tragic life of operatic dimensions into a song cycle of great beauty and emotional resonance. Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
FROM THE FINANCIAL TIMES:The climactic finale involved the local premiere of Jake Heggie’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (2011), an extensive ode to the agonised sculptor — Rodin’s lover — who died in 1943. Ever popular, obviously facile and increasingly daring, Heggie dealt sensitively with the introspective sentiments at hand. He juggled acerbic lyricism craftily with oppressive drama, adorning Gene Scheer’s text with florid wails and eerie melismas at jolting intervals. In the process, he made the primitive lamentations propulsive, the otherworldly illusions, delusions and allusions gripping. DiDonato sang the expansive solos with rare conviction and lustrous, subtly shaded tone.Martin Bernheimer, The Financial Times
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FROM THE NEW YORK CLASSICAL REVIEW: Among the most intriguing items on Sunday’s program were Bybee’s selections from Gene Scheer’s Voices from World War II
(1998). The baritone showed a deep connection to these powerful songs, particularly “The German U-Boat Captain,” a sort of sailor’s lament, tinged with the grief of having survived the war thanks to the mercy of a German officer.
FROM THE NY TIMES: Mr. Scheer’s libretto was an economical wonder, casting off Melville’s landlocked opening and stretches of minutiae regarding whales and whaling. What remained was a taut, two-act adventure yarn, bound by the relationships between Ahab and his conscientious first mate, Starbuck, and between the neophyte seaman Greenhorn (Melville’s Ishmael, renamed with dramatic intent) and Queequeg, the noble-savage harpooner. (Steve Smith)
FROM OPERA TODAY: “It’s glorious and it’s gripping; it’s grand — and it’s good! Heggie — assisted by his seasoned librettist Gene Scheer — has achieved something with Moby-Dick
that American opera has not experienced in a long time: they have created a work of quality that should garner itself an immediate place in the repertory of opera houses around the world.“
Wes Blomster, Opera Today