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.”
Parsing which is more sensational, the artistry or the music, is beyond the point. Unexpected Shadows (Pentatone), the all-Heggie recital from mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, composer/pianist Jake Heggie, and cellist Matt Haimovitz, is destined to win multiple “Best Vocal Recital of the Year” awards as it makes the best possible case for the necessity and relevance of modern American classical song.
Violins of Hope West Coast Debut Hailed a Success!World Premiere of Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, a Music at Kohl Mansion commissioned work by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, given five different debut performances in Burlingame, San Jose and San Francisco; live performance recorded for future release on Pentatone.
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.
. . . Everest keeps melodramatic impulses at bay and controlled psychological tension ultimately saturates the scenario.
There are a myriad of reasons why an operatic adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air should not work. And yet it does. Composer Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer have crafted a compelling 70-minute opera adapted from Krakauer’s nonfiction account of the disastrous 1996 Everest season in which eight people died.
I recommend the opera and the world premiere cast enthusiastically, with special note of Jake Heggie’s beautifully composed orchestral and vocal score and Gene Scheer’s intelligently conceived libretto.
It takes multiple ingredients for an opera to work, starting with a captivating story, which Moby-Dick” obviously has. But that sprawling novel had to be honed to a usable form, and Gene Scheer, one of today’s go-to librettists, did a first-rate job of conveying its scale and intimacy with vivid, imagistic language.