The world premiere of Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, forms the powerful center of the new Pentatone release . . . emotionally devastating and cathartic.Announcing the CD release of Violins of Hope.
In his inaugural address, President Biden quoted Gene Scheer’s song, a patriotic hymn championed by the opera star Denyce Graves and recorded by Norah Jones for a Ken Burns soundtrack.Read the full feature article in The New York Times about the history of this beloved song.
Justice Ginsburg was a passionate opera fan from her youth, and one of her favorite singers, the American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, sang for her one last time on Friday at the Capitol ceremony. Ms. Graves, her voice reverberating off the marble of Statuary Hall, performed the spiritual “Deep River” and Gene Scheer’s “American Anthem.”
The centerpiece of the instruments’ residency is the premiere of “Intonations,” Heggie’s song cycle, written to a libretto by Gene Scheer for mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke with violinist Daniel Hope and a string quartet drawn from the Opera Orchestra. Each song represents the voice of a different violin, telling its own story.
It's a story that could have been taken from a breaking news report: A soldier, gravely wounded in a brutal battle, flees the fighting to try and make his way home. Only this story is set during the Civil War. If that's starting to sound a little familiar, it probably should — it's the story of Cold Mountain, a best-selling novel and a star-studded 2003 movie. Now it's an opera, composed by Jennifer Higdon with a libretto by Gene Scheer. It premiered this past weekend, but its road to the stage was almost as difficult as the journey home of the main character...
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain and one of the most dangerous, having claimed more than 200 lives over the past century. Until last year's fatal avalanche, the deadliest year in recorded history was 1996: 15 people died, eight of them in a single blizzard. That disaster has been chronicled in at least five books, two documentaries — and now, an opera premiering in Dallas, Texas, simply called Everest.
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...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..."