An opera in one act for solo baritone voice, solo piano and ensemble, David Lang’s the loser has been lauded by the New York Times as a “boldly unconventional” work, and that’s almost putting it mildly. the loser is based on the Thomas Bernhard novel of the same name, in which an anonymous narrator and once-promising concert pianist retells the story of his friend’s suicide. As it turns out, both were students in the same master class, taught by Vladimir Horowitz, as a young Glenn Gould. Playing in the shadow of Gould brings both to the realization that true greatness will never be theirs, wrecking both their lives forever.
Featuring Rod Gilfry (baritone), Conrad Tao (piano) and the Bang on a Can Opera Ensemble conducted by Lesley Leighton, the loser premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2016, and made its West Coast premiere at the LA Opera in early 2019. Tracked in New York and Los Angeles, the studio recording recaptures what the LA Times described as “a mesmerizingly virtuosic performance by Rod Gilfry, destined for the annals of opera.”