The Listeners

Opera Philadelphia



Soprano Kiera Duffy in Breaking the Waves, 2016, composed by Missy Mazzoli and produced by Opera Philadelphia. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier.

Opera Philadelphia will commission a new work by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek and will produce its premiere with co-commissioning partner Norwegian National Opera. The work is based on an original story written specifically for the project by novelist and playwright Jordan Tannahill. In The Listeners, a school teacher is troubled by a mysterious hum. She and the few others who hear it—the titular “Listeners”—convene over the unexplained phenomenon, eventually gravitating to a charismatic leader in secret meetings and rituals. “I wanted to write a new piece about our universally-held, modern-day longing to find something bigger than ourselves,” Mazzoli says, “a sense of place in community and spirituality in a society that increasingly sees those elements as extra, non-essential.” In 2016, frequent collaborators Mazzoli and Vavrek worked with Opera Philadelphia to premiere the Center-supported Breaking the Waves, which received the Music Critics Association of North America’s award for Best New Opera. The Listeners will premiere in Oslo, Norway, and then anchor Opera Philadelphia’s annual opera festival.

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