Based on HERMAN MELVILLE’s 19th century literary masterpiece, MOBY- DICK explores the lethal power of obsession and the need for human connection and understanding in an increasingly multicultural world, one filled with mysterious encounters, exotic characters and one man’s quest for a white whale that leaves death and destruction in its wake.
The new opera marks the seventh collaboration (four stage works and three song cycles) by JAKE HEGGIE and celebrated librettist GENE SCHEER, who had this to say about Moby- Dick:
“Writing the libretto for MOBY-DICK was the most thrilling challenge I have yet taken on. The book always seems to provide more to ponder and more to explore. It is a grand adventure story and, of course, a journey into the depths of the human heart.
“The enormity of the themes and questions posed make the story, in fact, very well suited to the thrilling power of music. Whether it is Ahab’s desperate fight to assert his place in the cosmos, or a lost young man’s struggle to achieve a spiritual rebirth, Melville’s masterpiece provides the kind of emotionally rich and psychologically profound landscape that is fertile ground for grand opera.”
JAKE HEGGIE writes:
“Every day of the past five years, I have relished exploring and mining the wealth of music in MELVILLE’s astonishing novel. This is a team effort and collaboration unlike anything I’ve experienced and the company has given us everything we need from day one,starting with a first-rate team, cast, orchestra and chorus. I’m terribly excited to share it with the Dallas audience, and hugely honored to be part of the inaugural season in the stunning Winspear Opera House.”
MOBY-DICK also marked the company debut of internationally acclaimed Canadian dramatic tenor BEN HEPPNER in the lead role of Captain Ahab. Other members of the outstanding cast included: baritone MORGAN SMITH as Starbuck; tenor and 2009 Richard Tucker Award Winner STEPHEN COSTELLO as Greenhorn; bass-baritone JONATHAN LEMALU as Queequeg; soprano TALISE TREVIGNE as Pip; tenor MATTHEW O’NEILL as Flask and baritone ROBERT ORTH as Stubb.
left to right: HEPPNER SMITH COSTELLO LEMALU O’NEILL ORTH
The all-star ensemble cast was conducted by PATRICK SUMMERS and directed by LEONARD FOGLIA, both frequent HEGGIE collaborators. Stage design was by two-time Tony Award-nominee ROBERT BRILL and award-winning Broadway veterans JANE GREENWOOD and DONALD HOLDER. MOBY-DICK was co-produced with San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and The State Opera of South Australia. The production was staged in San Diego in January, 2012 with the roles of Ahab, Starbuck, Queequeg, and Pip reprised respectively by BEN HEPPNER*, Morgan Smith, Jonathan Lemalu and Talise Trevigne. The opera came to San Francisco in the Fall of 2012; this production was filmed and broadcast on PBS as part of the Great Performances series.
Below, a video of San Diego Opera Spotlight Moby-Dick on the making of the opera, including rehearsal and production scenes, conversations with Heggie, Scheer, Foglia, and the artists:
* Only on Opening Night; Heppner fell ill and was replaced by tenor Jay Hunter Morris who also sang the role of Ahab in the San Francisco Opera production.