Lileana Blain-Cruz to Direct The Listeners at Opera Philadelphia | Playbill

Classic Arts News Lileana Blain-Cruz to Direct The Listeners at Opera Philadelphia

The company’s 2024-25 season will also include The Anonymous Lover and Don Giovanni.

Lileana Blain-Cruz Lia Chang

Opera Philadelphia’s 2024-25 season will open in September with Missy Mazzoli’s The Listeners, directed by Tony nominee Lileana Blain-Cruz. With a libretto by Royce Vavrek, The Listeners is about a mysterious “hum” that only a few people, known as the Listeners, can hear. The opera, which is described by the composer as “both a psychological thriller and an intimate portrait of modern family life,” had its world premiere at the Norwegian National Opera in 2022. 

The Listeners will star mezzo-soprano Nicole Heaston as Claire Devon, a middle-class mother in the southwestern U.S., who hears the “hum.” The cast also includes baritone Troy Cook as Claire’s husband Paul, soprano Lindsey Reynolds as their daughter, Ashley, and bass Kevin Burdette as Howard Bard, the leader of the Listeners. Mezzo-soprano Rehanna Thelwell, baritone John Moore, and tenor Aaron Crouch round out the cast.

Blain-Cruz’s production will include scenic design by Adam Rigg, choreography by Raja Feather Kelly, lighting design by Yi Zhao, sound design by Daniel Neumann, video design by Hannah Wasileski, and costume design by Kaye VoyceThe Listeners is Mazzoli and Vavrek’s fourth opera together, following Song from the Uproar, Breaking the Waves, and Proving Up. Their fifth opera, Lincoln in the Bardo, is a co-commission from LA Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, and will receive its world premiere in 2026.

Opera Philadelphia’s season will continue in January with The Anonymous Lover, by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The classical-era opera is a romantic comedy, following a young widow, Léontine, who receives letters and gifts from a secret admirer, who turns out to be her friend Valcour. The opera will be presented in a new adaptation by Kirsten Greenidge, blending the original French singing with new English dialogue.

The Anonymous Lover will be directed by Dennis Whitehead Darling, and conducted by Kalena Bovell. Soprano Symone Harcum stars as Léontine, alongside tenor Khanyiso Gwenxane as Valcour, with baritone Jonathan McCullough, soprano Ashley Marie Robillard, tenor Joshua Blue, and mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce completing the cast.

The season will conclude with Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by Alison Moritz. Baritone Timothy Murray and bass-baritone Nicholas Newton will make their Opera Philadelphia debuts as the titular Don and his put-upon servant Leporello. Sopranos Olivia Smith, Elizabeth Reiter, and Amanda Sheriff play Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Zerlina, with baritone Kevin Godínez as Masetto, and bass Raymond Aceto as the Commendatore.

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