Everest

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Talbot's Everest

January 23, 25, & 26, 2020
Long Center for the Performing Arts

Everest

Austin Opera’s season continues with the company premiere of Everest, January 23 – 26, 2020 at the Long Center. This opera, with music by Joby Talbot and libretto by Gene Scheer, tells the tale of one of the deadliest years in recorded history, 1996, at Mount Everest.

Bad weather has affected 1996’s climbing season – causing multiple expeditions to attempt to summit on
May 10-11. A bottleneck of climbers at the famous Hillary Step has delayed the progress of Rob Hall’s group and has splintered the group in two as a ferocious storm brews and rages around them. The climbers will struggle to overcome elements in their quest for survival.

Austin Opera’s cast features three of the stars of the original Dallas Opera production in 2015. Making their company debuts are bass-baritone Kevin Burdette as Texas native Beck Weathers and tenor Andrew Bidlack as expedition leader Rob Hall. Baritone Craig Verm returns to Austin Opera for his fifth role as doomed climber Doug Hansen. Rounding out the group of adventurers is soprano Heather Johnson, performing Hall’s wife, Jan Arnold.

This 75-minute production features projections portraying the vastness of the mountainous space and nuances of light and weather while the cast of climbers, in heavy gear, at the front of the stage display the human drama unfolding as the orchestra creates the sounds of weather on stage with the vocal artists. This white-knuckle rush will take Austin Opera audiences on a journey like never before.

Production Run Time:
Act I – 75 minutes

Total Time: 75 minutes an opera in 1 Act

*Patrons must be 8 years of age or older to attend.

Andrew Bidlack

Andrew Bidlack*+
Rob Hall

Craig Verm Headshot

Craig Verm+
Doug Hansen

Kevin Burdette Head shot

Kevin Burdette*+
Beck Weathers

Johnson Heather

Heather Johnson*
Jan Arnold

Matthew Trevino

Matthew Treviño
Guy Cotter

Production

Music: Joby Talbot
Libretto: Gene Scheer
Conductor: Joseph Mechavich*
Stage Director: Leonard Foglia*
Projection Design: Elaine J. McCarthy
Lighting Design: Kathryn Eader
Production owned by The Dallas Opera
Costumes by David C. Woolard

Sung in English, with English supertitles.

*Austin Opera debut
+ Role Originator

ACT I

From the shadows of Mount Everest, the spirits of all those who have died attempting to reach the summit sing to Beck Weathers, who is unconscious on the mountain’s South Col*. These ethereal spirits now turn their attention to Rob Hall, the expedition leader and guide, who is just reaching Everest’s highest peak at 2:30 p.m., thirty minutes past the safe turnaround time. Rob sees his client Doug Hansen a mere forty feet below.

The scene shifts back to Beck Weathers. In his unconscious, dreamlike state, the stranded climber hallucinates that he is in his backyard enjoying a Texas barbecue. Beck holds court and begins to describe his experiences on Everest. Suddenly, from the edge of Beck’s consciousness, the voice of his daughter Meg sings to him.

As we see Rob straining to help Doug reach the summit, time stops and Doug sings an aria in which he describes the tormenting deep-seated obsession that has led him to this moment. Rob takes a picture of Doug at the instant he has achieved his goal, and the guide is jarred by the memory of photographing his pregnant wife, Jan, before leaving their home in New Zealand for the Himalayas.

While Rob endeavors to get his client down from the summit of Everest, we see Beck lying, delirious, on the South Col. Once again, his daughter calls out to him in vain. From the depths of his consciousness, ruminations on his struggle with profound depression slowly merge with the memory of the events that took place on the climb earlier that same day.

Rob is increasingly desperate. He has a disabled client on the top of the mountain as the storm begins raging around them both. Jan, Rob’s wife, is contacted and told of her husband’s life-threatening situation.

Beck, beginning to emerge from his coma, sees the climbers on the South Col huddling together in a frantic attempt to survive the storm. Beck’s internal soliloquy slowly allows him to make sense of what is happening, and to comprehend the cold, hard truth: he is dying.

In a quartet, Doug, Rob, Jan and Beck sing of their plight. As the quartet concludes, we see Rob propelling Doug toward a sheltered spot on the South Summit, where he hopes they can make it through the night.

Beck has finally awakened to the harsh reality that, if he is going to survive another hour, he will have to save himself.

*The South Col is a mountain pass often used as the location for Camp IV, the final stop in the push to reach the summit.

Overview

Everest

Austin Opera’s season continues with the company premiere of Everest, January 23 – 26, 2020 at the Long Center. This opera, with music by Joby Talbot and libretto by Gene Scheer, tells the tale of one of the deadliest years in recorded history, 1996, at Mount Everest.

Bad weather has affected 1996’s climbing season – causing multiple expeditions to attempt to summit on
May 10-11. A bottleneck of climbers at the famous Hillary Step has delayed the progress of Rob Hall’s group and has splintered the group in two as a ferocious storm brews and rages around them. The climbers will struggle to overcome elements in their quest for survival.

Austin Opera’s cast features three of the stars of the original Dallas Opera production in 2015. Making their company debuts are bass-baritone Kevin Burdette as Texas native Beck Weathers and tenor Andrew Bidlack as expedition leader Rob Hall. Baritone Craig Verm returns to Austin Opera for his fifth role as doomed climber Doug Hansen. Rounding out the group of adventurers is soprano Heather Johnson, performing Hall’s wife, Jan Arnold.

This 75-minute production features projections portraying the vastness of the mountainous space and nuances of light and weather while the cast of climbers, in heavy gear, at the front of the stage display the human drama unfolding as the orchestra creates the sounds of weather on stage with the vocal artists. This white-knuckle rush will take Austin Opera audiences on a journey like never before.

Production Run Time:
Act I – 75 minutes

Total Time: 75 minutes an opera in 1 Act

*Patrons must be 8 years of age or older to attend.

Cast and Production
Andrew Bidlack

Andrew Bidlack*+
Rob Hall

Craig Verm Headshot

Craig Verm+
Doug Hansen

Kevin Burdette Head shot

Kevin Burdette*+
Beck Weathers

Johnson Heather

Heather Johnson*
Jan Arnold

Matthew Trevino

Matthew Treviño
Guy Cotter

Production

Music: Joby Talbot
Libretto: Gene Scheer
Conductor: Joseph Mechavich*
Stage Director: Leonard Foglia*
Projection Design: Elaine J. McCarthy
Lighting Design: Kathryn Eader
Production owned by The Dallas Opera
Costumes by David C. Woolard

Sung in English, with English supertitles.

*Austin Opera debut
+ Role Originator

Synopsis

ACT I

From the shadows of Mount Everest, the spirits of all those who have died attempting to reach the summit sing to Beck Weathers, who is unconscious on the mountain’s South Col*. These ethereal spirits now turn their attention to Rob Hall, the expedition leader and guide, who is just reaching Everest’s highest peak at 2:30 p.m., thirty minutes past the safe turnaround time. Rob sees his client Doug Hansen a mere forty feet below.

The scene shifts back to Beck Weathers. In his unconscious, dreamlike state, the stranded climber hallucinates that he is in his backyard enjoying a Texas barbecue. Beck holds court and begins to describe his experiences on Everest. Suddenly, from the edge of Beck’s consciousness, the voice of his daughter Meg sings to him.

As we see Rob straining to help Doug reach the summit, time stops and Doug sings an aria in which he describes the tormenting deep-seated obsession that has led him to this moment. Rob takes a picture of Doug at the instant he has achieved his goal, and the guide is jarred by the memory of photographing his pregnant wife, Jan, before leaving their home in New Zealand for the Himalayas.

While Rob endeavors to get his client down from the summit of Everest, we see Beck lying, delirious, on the South Col. Once again, his daughter calls out to him in vain. From the depths of his consciousness, ruminations on his struggle with profound depression slowly merge with the memory of the events that took place on the climb earlier that same day.

Rob is increasingly desperate. He has a disabled client on the top of the mountain as the storm begins raging around them both. Jan, Rob’s wife, is contacted and told of her husband’s life-threatening situation.

Beck, beginning to emerge from his coma, sees the climbers on the South Col huddling together in a frantic attempt to survive the storm. Beck’s internal soliloquy slowly allows him to make sense of what is happening, and to comprehend the cold, hard truth: he is dying.

In a quartet, Doug, Rob, Jan and Beck sing of their plight. As the quartet concludes, we see Rob propelling Doug toward a sheltered spot on the South Summit, where he hopes they can make it through the night.

Beck has finally awakened to the harsh reality that, if he is going to survive another hour, he will have to save himself.

*The South Col is a mountain pass often used as the location for Camp IV, the final stop in the push to reach the summit.

7:30PM, Thursday, January 23, 2020
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
7:30PM, Saturday, January 25, 2020
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
2:30PM, Sunday, January 26, 2020
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
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512-610-7684; Monday-Friday: 9am-5pm

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512-474-5664
Monday-Friday:10 am – 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
Sunday: open during scheduled performances

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