Opera Philadelphia

Festival O24

Opera Philadelphia will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2024-2025 Season, which will begin with Festival O24. The annual season-opening celebration will take on added significance in this anniversary year, anchored by two new company commissions composed by women with strong ties to the company and the city of Philadelphia: Missy Mazzoli's The Listeners, and Jennifer Higdon's Woman With Eyes Closed.

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American Premiere The Listeners Missy Mazzoli | Royce Vavrek

The Listeners, from composer Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrekis a thriller about social rejection, suburban loneliness, and the role of charismatic leaders in our society. Based on an original story by Jordan Tannahill, the story is inspired by an actual phenomenon called “the global hum,” a low-pitched sound that people around the world claim to hear.

Lileana Blain-Cruz directs the production, which is designed by Tony-award winner Adam Rigg and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly. American soprano Nicole Heaston sings the central role of Claire Devon, a middle-class mother living in a southwestern U.S. suburb who notices a “hum,” a high-frequency environmental noise that only a select few people, the “Listeners,” can hear. A community organization quickly forms to solve the mystery of the hum, but when a de facto leader suggests a spiritual significance the meetings become increasingly cult-like, ritualized experiences.

World Premiere Woman with Eyes Closed Jennifer Higdon | Jerre Dye

The world premiere production of Woman with Eyes Closed is a new Opera Philadelphia commission composed by Jennifer Higdon with librettist Jerre Dye and director Christian Räth.

The opera is inspired by the real-life 2012 theft of seven masterpieces from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum. At first, the mother of the prime suspect confessed to incinerating these priceless artworks to protect her son, but she subsequently denied it. Never recovered, their fate remains shrouded in mystery. Committed to capturing the unsolved mystery at the story’s heart, the creative team devised multiple endings; each audience will see the plot play out in one of three different ways. And by casting the thief’s mother as their protagonist, and having her see in Freud’s painting an irresistible resemblance to her own dead mother, the team found in their story a way to explore the power of art.

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