Hagen: Orson Rehearsed / Zahab, Fifth House Ensemble

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Friedheim Award-winning composer, with a catalog of internationally performed work spanning four decades. His opera film Orson Rehearsed is the psychological, emotional, and spiritual journey taken by the American actor, polymath, and creator of Citizen Kane Orson Welles, as he finds himself on the threshold between life and death. Memories of Welles as a wunderkind and in his swashbuckling prime are brought to life, as well as successes and failures both real and imagined, with the consolation of a life fully lived. Fusing live players with pre-recorded sounds and effects, the film version of Orson Rehearsed has been a multiple award winner at festivals in the US, Europe and beyond.


I found this to be a thoroughly original, enjoyable opera, though it does seem to be targeted toward film buffs. There were a number of significant references that I doubt I would have understood had I not already been interested in Orson Welles and his work. Furthermore, the sound has problems. The balance is sometimes off: lows are too low and highs are too high. In the case of the latter, the singers can get buried to the point of unintelligibility. This recording comes from the work’s first two performances; a work with this much prerecorded sound would benefit from a wellmixed studio recording. That aside, this is an opera worth hearing if the subject matter interests you. Notes and libretto are included.

-- American Record Guide

It is the magical soundscapes of Daron Hagen’s Orson Rehearsed that kick off the Wants List for 2021, a work of infinitely fertile musical imagination. I concluded my review (Fanfare 44:6) by saying that “we just need a DVD/Blu-ray release now” and how true that is; but the sonics-only recording holds magnificence galore. Textures positively glow; the complexities and depth of this “dream opera” keep on revealing themselves on repeated listenings. That, and the sheer excellence of both cast (perfectly chosen) and recording (crystal clear, with a great sense of perspective). There is something about world premiere recordings; they have a particular vibrancy, and this release has that in spades. From every angle, this is a sure-fire winner. I just want to hear more of Hagen’s operas.

-- Fanfare

Product Description:

  • Release Date: March 12, 2021

  • Catalog Number: 8669049

  • UPC: 730099904971

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Daron Aric Hagen

  • Conductor: Roger Zahab

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Fifth House Ensemble

  • Performer: Daron Aric Hagen, Omar Mulero, Peter Marshall, Robert Frankenberry, Robert Orth