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.”
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.
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.
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.
“To Hell and Back is a two-character drama based on the Rape of Persephone Greek myth. The piece was written for Patti LuPone and Isabel Bayrakdarian and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra led by Nicholas McGegan.
An American Tragedy, based on the novel by Theodore Dreiser, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. It is an opera in two acts composed by Tobias Picker to a libretto by Gene Scheer.
Thérèse Raquin, premiered by the Dallas Opera, is an opera in two acts composed by Tobias Picker to a libretto by Gene Scheer based on the novel Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola