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Joby Talbot

Publisher: Chester Music

Everest (2014)
Commissioned by The Dallas Opera. Keith Cerny, General Director & CEO.
Text Writer
Gene Scheer
Chester Music Ltd
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Year Composed
1 Hour 15 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Mezzo-soprano, soprano, tenor, 2 baritones
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Programme Note
Joby Talbot Everest (2014)
Everest, May 10-11, 1996: Bad weather has affected this year's climbing season, and now multiple expeditions are attempting to summit on the same day. A bottleneck of climbers at the notorious Hillary Step has delayed the progress of Rob Hall's group and he now finds himself near the top of the mountain with his client Doug Hansen, long after the agreed turnaround time has passed. Unbeknownst to the two mountaineers, a ferocious storm is brewing below. Meanwhile, further down the mountain, another of Rob's clients, Beck Weathers, lies unconscious as the storm rages around him.


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, he 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. As Rob takes a picture of Doug, Rob is jarred by the memory of taking pictures of his wife, Jan.

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 desperately trying to get Doug to the South Summit, where he hopes they can make it through the night.

Beck has finally woken up to the harsh reality that if he is going to be saved, he will need to do it himself.

Preview the score

  • 16 NOV 2019
    Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Chicago, IL
    Chicago Opera Theater

    Other Dates:
    17 November - Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Chicago, IL
  • 23 JAN 2020
    Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX
    Austin Opera

    Other Dates:
    25,26 January - Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX
  • 20 JUN 2020
    Everest UK Premiere
    Barbican Centre, London
    BBC Symphony Orchestra / BBC Singers
    Michael Mayes - Beck, Veronika Haller - Jan, Andrew Bidlack - Ron, Craig Verm - Doug; Nicole Paiement, conductor

Everest is a musically stunning, cinematically thrilling opera- tenets long held by the art form, but updated here for a new generation, and updated brilliantly’
Lauren Smart, Dallas Observer,04/02/2015
A resounding success, a genre-bending coup de théâtre
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theatre Jones,04/02/2015
Gripping, edge of your seat story-telling, stunning, innovative...if you want to see where opera is headed in the 21st-century, don't miss this production.
Catherine Womack, D Magazine,04/02/2015
The Dallas Opera scored a minor coup and a mighty one...rival's great legitimate theatre in its impact
Olin Chism, Fort Worth Star-Telegram,03/02/2015
Everest grounds its story in real human feeling. By eliciting sympathy for its four central figures (Hall, his wife, Jan, and two of the climbers, Doug Hanson and Beck Weathers), it also creates real suspense: we care enough about these people to wish for their survival, even as we see fate moving inexorably against them. Talbot uses a shimmering orchestral fabric to move his musical argument forward…
Fred Cohn, Opera News,30/01/2015
A stirring score on top of a masterful libretto...It is easy to image Everest as a lasting work
David Weuste,,30/01/2015
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