Opera Philadelphia Announces Opera to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Philadelphia has announced that it will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2024-2025 Season with two new company commissions composed by women with strong ties to the company and the city of Philadelphia.

Making its U.S. Premiere at the Academy of Music is “The Listeners,” the latest opera from composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek. “The Listeners” is 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 worldwide claim to hear. Lileana Blain-Cruz directs the production, with American soprano Nicole Heaston singing the central role of Claire Devon.

The cast will also include baritone Troy Cook as Claire’s husband, Paul Devon, and soprano Lindsey Reynolds as their teen daughter, Ashley. Bass Kevin Burdette returns in the role of Howard Bard, leader of the Listeners, with mezzo Rehanna Thelwell as Angela Rose, Howard’s right-hand woman. Baritones John Moore (Breaking the Waves) and Michael Sumuel also star as group members.

Making its World Premiere will be “Woman with Eyes Closed,” the second opera by the Philadelphia-based Pulitzer Prize and three-time Grammy-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. German director Christian Räth directs.