REV. 23 premiere: new opera from Julian Wachner & Cerise Jacobs, the sequel to Revelations

On September 29, a new opera from Cerise Jacobs and Julian WachnerRev. 23, premieres at Boston’s John Hancock Theater. The premiere kicks off the Boston New Music Festival and features White Snake Projects production company, who shares new, relevant opera based on the stories of Cerise Jacobs. Rev. 23 will be available soon from E. C. Schirmer.

Rev. 23 is the sequel to the Book of Revelations. It is told from the perspective of St. John the Divine and “transcribed” by Cerise Lim Jacobs. The opera narrates the last battle to recapture Paradise-on-Earth and restore the balance of good and evil to our world. Persephone, the only being able to pass freely between Hell and Earth, is recruited by Lucifer in the fight against the rulers of Paradise-on-Earth. No one is exempt from this battle. The opera transcends the Biblical narrative, and pulls characters from mythology and Chinese history.

Cerise Lim Jacobs has earned a place as one of the most creative and imaginative thinkers of our time. Born in Singapore, Jacobs eventually moved to Massachussetts where she worked as a trial partner at one of New England’s largest law firms, practicing law for more than two decades. Three years into her retirement, a song cycle written for her husband turned into her first, full-length opera Madame White Snake. The music by Zhou Long won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.

Jacobs writes, “I dreamed up REV. 23 one day as I was thinking of where I would meet my husband Charles again since he passed from this world. It amused me that my incorrigible, irascible and impossible husband wouldn’t be caught dead (pardon the pun) in Paradise (not that he’d be entirely welcome there) as some of the most interesting people seem to be consigned to that other place. This led to more musing about what Heaven was like and concomitantly, what that other place was like.

I was aided in these musings by the fact that I was a Singaporean Methodist, a product of an American Methodist Missionary school and deeply steeped in biblical lore. So I turned, naturally, to the most detailed account of Paradise-on-Earth familiar to me, the divine visions of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation.

Poring over the Book of Revelation over and over again (it’s a very short book), I couldn’t shake away the sense of unease that grew stronger with each read, that perhaps I wouldn’t be perfectly happy in a place of perfect happiness. As I began to explore why I felt uneasy, the framework for Rev. 23, the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, began to take shape.”


Julian Wachner, Grammy-nominated composer, is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought after as composer, conductor, educator and keyboard artist. He is currently Director of Music and Arts at Trinity Wall Street and Music Director of the Grammy award winning Washington Chorus.

With over 80 works in his catalog, Wachner’s music has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” (Boston Globe), having “splendor, dignity, outstanding tone combinations, sophisticated chromatic exploration…a rich backdrop, wavering between a glimmer and a tingle…” (La Scena Musicale), being “a compendium of surprises” (Washington Post), and as “bold and atmospheric”, having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting” and noted for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” (New York Times.) The American Record Guide noted that “Wachner is both an unapologetic modernist and an open-minded eclectic – his music has something to say.” In 2010, He made New York City Opera history when he was selected as both conductor and composer at the company’s annual VOX festival of contemporary opera leading to the invitation to be the sole conductor of this Festival in 2012.

To learn more about the opera, click here.

Read Harvard Magazine’s January 2017 Interview with Cerise Jacobs here.

Read Elena Ruehr’s interview with Cerise Jacobs and Julian Wachner here.

Source: REV. 23, from Creator and Librettist Cerise Jacobs and Composer Julian Wachner, Premieres at Boston’s John Hancock Theater September 29; Tickets on Sale May 1 – 21C Media Group – Publicity. Digital Media. Consulting. For Music, Culture, & the Performing Arts

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