The Highway – an opera noir in four scenes


The Highway is "an impressive opera by Jeremy Beck, a gifted young composer at the Yale School of Music. ...[His] handling of dramatic relationships and superimposed time was masterful."
- The New Haven Register

The Highway is a contemporary story of a young man’s attempt to forge an artistic life in the face of an indifferent world. This controversial opera – involving murder, suicide, sex trafficking, parallel time structures, and integrating a rock band in the orchestration – proved too experimental and challenging to ever receive a fully-staged performance.

A semi-staged concert performance of The Highway was presented by New Music New Haven (Jacob Druckman, artistic director) and Yale Opera (Doris Yarick-Cross, artistic director) with chamber orchestra at Yale on 16 April 1992. The cast included Cynthia Zielski (soprano); Mary Phillips (mezzo); Douglas Purcell (tenor); Alan Arak (baritone); and Michael Chioldi (baritone). The conductor was Thomas Duffy, with stage direction by Paul Schick and musical preparation by Laura Manning and me.

Winner of Yale’s Woods Chandler Memorial Prize for Best Work in a Large Form, excerpts from The Highway were also presented by New York City Opera as a part of that company’s VOX series in May of 2000 at Cooper Union, New York City. The cast included Adina Aaron (soprano); Patricia Coffin (mezzo); Enrique Abdala (tenor); Michael Lofton (baritone); and Eric Lodal (baritone). The conductor was Glen Cortese, with musical preparation by Susan Woodruff Versage.

Ordering the PDF score or printed score alone will purchase the piano-vocal score. The orchestra score and parts are available on a rental basis only.

Letter from Stephen Sondheim discussing “The Highway” and contemporary opera in general (June 24, 1992)


soprano, mezzo, tenor, 2 baritones; 1011/1100/perc, pno, gtr/strgs
Date completed:
ca. 75:00
Libretto by the composer, based on a story by O. Henry
PDF Score:
The Highway (Libretto)

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