Everest: An Immersive Experience
Composer Joby Talbot | Librettist: Gene Scheer | Running Time: 68 mins with no intermission – performed in English with subtitles.
Opera Parallèle is taking you to the top of the world! Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring landscapes of Everest for a one-of-a-kind operatic adventure. Based on the true story of an ill-fated expedition in 1996, a group of mountaineers tap into the depths of their physical and emotional selves to realize their dreams of conquering Everest. Following the critical success of OP’s award-winning, genre-defying animated film Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera, the company now offers an entirely new way to experience opera, placing the audience directly in the action among the intricate imagery and soaring soundworld of this breathtaking story. This cutting-edge work fuses the vivid imagery of graphic novels with the visceral power of the operatic voice in a unique multi-sensory environment.
Everest follows the true-life stories of three climbers, Rob Hall, Doug Hansen, and Beck Weathers as they attempt to summit Mount Everest in 1996. The crackling mountain, the prevailing wind, the power of nature abounds. Throughout the immersive experience we move between the climbers’ present realities on the mountain, that of their loved ones and their pasts as they slip in and out of consciousness. As the experience begins, we meet Rob, the expedition leader who has just reached the summit – 30 minutes past the safe turnaround time. His client Doug is 40 feet below him. In a separate timeline we meet Beck, semi-conscious on the South Col and hallucinating about his life back in Texas – in particular his daughter Meg who appears to him. Doug finally reaches the summit but is struggling to maintain consciousness – it will be up to Rob to get him safely back down the mountain. Meanwhile a large storm hits below the summit, making their descent even more treacherous. Through Rob’s memories and an extraordinary phone call, we also meet Rob’s pregnant wife Jan Arnold in New Zealand. As the climbers struggle to reach safety through the storm, we experience with them the brutal realities of Everest and the power of human conviction.
- DATES: February 3-12, 2023
- VENUE: Z Space, San Francisco – 450 Florida St, San Francisco
Everest Ice Breakers
Take a look behind the scenes of how Opera Parallèle created ‘Everest: An Immersive Experience’
Go behind the scenes of OP’s process in bringing this commissioned world premiere to the stage.
Into Thin Air
In the Shadow of the Mountain
Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest
The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest
Why Do We Climb
Outside sports can have positive effects on physical and mental health. Yet a study in the European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience (Habelt et al, 2022) found that people with behavioral addiction in mountaineering display high levels of sensation-seeking, emotion regulation, and risk-taking. But what causes climbers not to rest, so that they can climb more summits and strive for the unreachable? Below are some more recent examples of climbers, including a conversation between opera librettist Gene Scheer and Beck Weathers, whose story is portrayed in the opera.
Climbing Mount Everest has become dangerously popular. John Oliver explains why
Lhakpa Sherpa sets Mount Everest women's climbing record
First all-Black team Full Circle Everest summits Mount Everest, makes history
14 Black Women Climb to top of Mount Kilimanjaro
THE LOCALS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH MT. EVEREST
Mount Everest is deeply connected to local cultural practices. Called Sagarmatha (Goddess of the Sky) by the Nepalese and Qomolungma (Goddess Mother of the Earth) by the Tibetans, the mountain is held to possess spiritual energy where that karma is amplified. But Everest accumulates the lees of those who attempt to conquer it, leaving the indigenous people to deal with it. The 1996 Mount Everest disaster received widespread attention and raised concerns about the commercialization of mountain climbing.
Living in Everest’s shadow: the Sherpa people of Khumbu
How Tall Is Mount Everest? Hint: It's Changing
Mt. Everest's joint measurement marks new milestone in ties with Nepal & China
Cast & Creatives
Two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is sought after by the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies, and chamber music ensembles for her versatile repertoire. She has sung at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, English National Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra National de Bordeaux, and Gran Teatre del Liceu, among others, and with over 70 symphony orchestras worldwide. She recently collaborated with 17 composers on a project called ‘Songs in a Time of Silence’ which will be released on Pentatone next fall. https://sashacooke.com/
World-renowned leading tenor and producing artist Nathan Granner gained chart-topping success as a founding member of The American Tenors. In addition to singing roles like Puccini’s Rodolfo, Mozart’s Ferrando and Verdi’s Jacopo Foscari, he has originated numerous roles in world premieres, including Korey Wise in Anthony Davis’ 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera The Central Park Five, and Aubrey Wells in Opera Parallèle’s beautiful work Today it Rains, by the Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reid team. https://www.ngranner.com
Bass Kevin Burdette has impressed audiences around the world with his mellifluous voice and strongly dramatic characterizations, with the New York Times dubbing him “the Robin Williams of opera.”
Recent highlights include Señor Russell in Adès’s The Exterminating Angel and Stefano in The Tempest (Deutsche Grammophon, 2014 Grammy Award) with the Metropolitan Opera; Pangloss in Candide with Gran Teatre del Liceu; Doktor in Wozzeck with the Philharmonia Orchestra; and Stobrod in Cold Mountain with Santa Fe Opera.
Guy Cotter & Mike Groom
Composer & Librettist
Creative + Production
Director & Creator
Projection Designer & Director of Photography
Support for this production has been provided by Bob Ellis, Stephen & Diane Heiman, and Marcia Barinaga & Corey Goodman.
Major production support has been provided by Gordon Getty, Paul L. King, Donna Dubinsky & Len Shustek, Scott R. Lord, and The Future Fund.
Major institutional and corporate support for Opera Parallèle has been provided by Adobe, The Lemala Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, City & County of San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.
The Bullhorn programming is supported in part through a Civic Practice Grant from OPERA America’s Opera Fund and by The Henry W. and Nettie Robinson Foundation.