If I Were You (2019)
Libretto by Gene Scheer & Music by Jake Heggie
An opera in two acts by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Loosely based on the novel Si j’étais vous by the French-American writer Julien Green, If I Were You is a contemporary story of identity with echoes of classical literature, from Faust to Jekyll and Hyde.
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.
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.