FROM THE WSJ REVIEW (2/3/15):” Everest,” a remarkable first opera by the British composer Joby Talbot, which had its world premiere at the Dallas Opera on Friday, forges art from a contemporary tragedy. Based on the true story of three climbers trapped on Mount Everest in a blizzard in May 1996 , this 70-minute juggernaut makes you feel disturbingly in the moment, living—and dying—along with the characters..
Gene Scheer’s taut, streamlined libretto, drawn from interviews with survivors, focuses on two situations: Rob Hall (the expedition leader) and Doug Hansen push on to the summit even though Doug is unwell, and Beck Weathers stays behind and gets lost. The fragmentation of the narrative builds suspense, and the stories are welded together by a chorus that echoes and questions the climbers.”
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST REVIEW (8/16/15) “The odyssey of the battle-scarred warrior making his precarious way back to a lover waiting at home is the oldest story in Western literature — the stuff of epic poems, plays, novels, movies and many operas. So it is a delight to report that the newest manifestation of this oft-told tale — the opera version of the best-selling novel “Cold Mountain,” just given its world premiere in Santa Fe — captures all of its adventure, romance and pathos in a fresh, vibrant musical idiom.”
Four songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano. The songs were inspired by iconic objects in the Smithsonian with a particular connection to a former First Lady of the United States. Commissioned by Vocal Arts DC to celebrate its 25th Anniversary Season.
Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer have come up with what seems to be a brand new form with “The Radio Hour”: A fully staged choral opera. In 40 minutes and three parts, it tells the story of Nora, a middle-age woman having a very bad day who seeks solace by locking herself inside her apartment and turning on the radio. Nora doesn’t sing, though, or make any other kind of peep. She is played by a silent actress. The chorus represents the inner monologue of her life and the imaginative possibilities that await her.
For soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone and piano, or with clarinet, violin, cello, bass, and piano. The songs for “Farewell Auschwitz” are free translations of lyrics created by Krystyna Zywulska while she was imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The piece, commissioned by Music of Remembrance, was premiered in Seattle at Benaroya Hall.
For baritone, men’s chorus and actor, “For A Look Or A Touch” is a story about the persecution of gay men during the Holocaust. The text is based on the true stories told in the documentary film Paragraph 175 and the journal of Manfred Lewin, from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
Starring soprano Caitlyn Lynch when it was premiered in Seattle at Benaroya Hall, “Another Sunrise” is based on the true day-to-day fight for survival of the spirited, quick-witted Krystyna Zywulska during the Nazi occupation of Poland. With her mother, Zywulska walked out of the Warsaw ghetto in broad daylight in 1942, and joined the Polish resistance. Captured by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, she wrote satiric poems that became camp anthems of resistance. This was a dangerous notoriety, because she was still trying to hide her Jewish roots from camp informers.
From Martin Bernheimer, The Financial Times: “The climactic finale involved the local premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’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. “
Moby-Dick with music by Jake Heggie and a libretto by Gene Scheer premiered at the Dallas Opera in 2010. The piece was met with great acclaim: “A TRIUMPH” The Dallas Morning News “AN UNDENIABLE SUCCESS” The New York Times “THE HIT OF THE SEASON” The Washington Post “
Based on the unpublished play “Some Christmas Letters: by Terrence McNally, “Three Decembers” was created for Frederica von Stade and the Houston Grand Opera. It was commissioned in association with the San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances.