A Choral Opera in One Act

Gene Scheer, librettist

“A masterpiece of clarity and intensity, with a score that is at once thematically compact and richly inventive.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Such commentary (re. the opera Moby Dick) is entirely typical of critical reaction to Jake Heggie’s operatic creations. Initially regarded as a master composer of art songs, he has since become known as perhaps America’s leading contemporary composer of internationally acclaimed operas. We’re treated here to winning examples of both genres: the world premiere recording of a short, one-act opera, The Radio Hour – as well as four shorter vocal pieces.

The Radio Hour – the world’s first-ever “choral opera” – is a compact work for silent actress, with running narrative and commentary from a choir. The program is rounded out with four mostly art song-based works in varied arrangements, several with choral elements.

The vaunted John Alexander Singers perform brilliantly. It is Alexander, the conductor here, who originally suggested the idea of a pioneering choral opera to Heggie. Susan Graham, one of America’s most beloved mezzo-sopranos, is heard in three of the shorter pieces; Pacific Symphony members provide deft instrumentals.