June 25, 2024

Get to know: Mazzoli/Vavrek's THE LISTENERS

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents The Listeners, anticipated to be one of the most significant operatic events of the 2024/25 Season. Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, the renowned composer/librettist team, tell the story of a schoolteacher, Claire, who is driven nearly mad by an unending, low-frequency hum that she hears. In desperation, she joins a community organization, "The Listeners," formed to discover the origin of the noise and destroy it. The group becomes frighteningly cult-like, ultimately leading to catastrophic consequences.

Mazzoli and Vavrek received enormous critical praise for their 2016 collaboration Breaking the Waves, which won the inaugural Best New Opera Award from the Music Critics Association of North America and was shortlisted for the "Best World Premiere" Prize at the International Opera Awards. Co-commissioned and co-produced by Lyric, Norwegian National Opera, and Opera Philadelphia, The Listeners was met with thunderous applause when it premiered in Oslo in 2021. Based on a story by novelist Jordan Tannahill, the work is a dark and psychologically charged thriller about a woman's descent into manipulation by a charismatic group leader, and explores how she finds unexpected solace during a time of crisis.

Nicole Heaston as Claire in the world premiere of The Listeners at Norwegian National Opera.

Nicole Heaston, who originated the role, stars as Claire, in her Lyric debut. Kyle Ketelsen, a veteran of seven roles at Lyric since 2004/05, most recently Leporello/Don Giovanni (2014/15), returns as Howard. Exciting young American soprano Jasmine Habersham makes her Lyric debut as Ashley, Claire's daughter. Rounding out the cast are Jonas Hacker — who audiences will remember for his stunning turn as Timothy Laughlin in Fellow Travelers (2017/18 Season) — as Kyle, and Daniela Mack in her company debut as Angela. The production will be conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola and directed by one of the most gifted theater artists of her generation, Lileana Blain-Cruz, resident director of Lincoln Center Theater.

The drama unfolds sometime in the present day, in the American Southwest, and is a riveting combination of family drama, documentary film, and socio-political commentary, all set to music by one of our greatest living composers. It is an opera about our desperate desire to belong, our search for community and meaning, and the power of charismatic leaders who exploit these desires. Onstage March 30 to April 11, 2025.

All photos: Erik Berg/Norwegian National Opera

MARCH 30 - APRIL 11, 2025

The Listeners

The Listeners

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents The Listeners, by the renowned composer/librettist team Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek. This thrilling story of a mysterious hum, a compelling heroine, and a catastrophic spiral is brought to life by a brilliant cast, conducted by Enrique Mazzola and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz.