The Wake World

The Wake World is an opera with music and libretto by David Hertzberg. It premiered September 18, 2017, at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.[1][2] The Wake World was a co-presentation of Opera Philadelphia and the Barnes Foundation, directed by R. B. Schlather and conducted by Elizabeth Braden.[1][2] The opera is based on the story "The Wake World" by Aleister Crowley.[1] The opera's debut recording was released April 24, 2020 on Tzadik Records.[3]

The Wake World
Opera by David Hertzberg
Based onThe Wake World
by Aleister Crowley
18 September 2017 (2017-09-18)

Critical receptionEdit

"The whole evening felt celebratory", Opera News wrote of The Wake World.[1] The New York Times called the music engrossing. "Just five instrumentalists produce wondrous colors and sonorities. The score, spiked with modernist elements, makes Mr. Hertzberg seem a 21st-century Ravel", wrote Anthony Tommasini.[4]

"The prose was purple, and so was the music, so thoroughly an antique musical language that it sounded like a half-remembered dream", wrote Peter Dobrin in The Philadelphia Inquirer.[5]

In 2018, The Wake World was awarded the Music Critics Association of North America Award for Best New Opera.[6]

The New York Times listed the track "Is that you, my love?" from the opera's debut recording among 'The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2020'.[7]


Roles, voice types, premiere cast
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 18 September 2017
Conductor: Elizabeth Braden[2]
Lola soprano Maeve Höglund
The Fairy Prince mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb
Parthenope soprano Rebecca Myers
Ligeia soprano Veronica Chapman-Smith
Leucosia mezzo-soprano Joanna Gates
Luna/Hecate soprano Jessica Beebe
Morbus tenor George Ross Somerville
Pestilitas bass John David Miles
Giant/Bone Man/Man in the Azure Coat/Man of the Blue House bass James Osby Gwathney, Jr.



  • 2020: Elizabeth Braden, conductor; Jesica Beebe, Andrew Bogard, Samantha Hankey, Maeve Hoglund. Tzadik (TZ 4030-2)[8]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Wake World". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "The Wake World". Opera Philadelphia. September 9, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "Tzadik Records to Release its First Opera: David Hertzberg's Hallucinatory The Wake World". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Tommasini, Anthony. "5 Operas in 72 Hours: A Philadelphia Festival Is a Test of Survival". The New York Times. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  5. ^ Dobrin, Peter. "O17 hits the Barnes with a hallucinatory fairy tale". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  6. ^ "Hertzberg Wins New Opera Honor For Wake World". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  7. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (December 17, 2020). "The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2020". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  8. ^ David Hertzberg – The Wake World (2020, CD) at Discogs