Noted World Premieres of Operasby Joseph So
/ February 12, 2008
Following the successes of his
operas Dead Man Walking (2000) and The End of the Affair
(2004), American composer Jake Heggie is working on another ambitious
project, an operatic adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby
Dick. It stars Canadian tenor Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab.
The conductor will be Houston Grand Opera music director Patrick Summers.
The librettist is Gene Scheer, and its premiere is slated for April
2010 at the 2200-seat Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the soon-to-be
new home of the Dallas Opera. Heggie attributes the idea of adapting
the Melville novel to playwright and Dead Man Walking librettist
Terrance McNally. He claims he has re-read the novel ten times since
he decided to set it to music. No details of the staging are available
at this time. This is a co-production with San Francisco Opera, San
Diego Opera and Calgary Opera, which has become the Canadian leader
in presenting Canadian and World premieres of new opera. Dead Man
Walking had its Canadian premiere there in 2006, and the company
gave the Canadian debut of The Ballad of Baby Doe just last month.
On a more modest scale, Tapestry
New Opera Works of Toronto is putting on Opera to Go 2008, showcasing
seven world premieres of six 15-minute chamber operas and a Bravo!FACT
film by composer-writer teams who have graduated from Tapestry’s Composer-Librettist
Laboratory, an annual opera “boot camp” that brings together artists
of various disciplines to collaborate on new opera creations. The program
features She sees her lover in the light of morning
by Leanna Brodie and Craig Galbraith, in which a cautious Ph.D. succumbs
to unfettered romance. Brodie also partners with David Ogborn on
The Translator, a disturbing story about a woman who, having witnessed
atrocity, embeds herself with a nation’s turmoil. Peace of my Heart
is a black comedy by Dave Carley and David Ogborn, while See Saw,
by Anna Chatterton and Andrew Staniland, is all about the end of a relationship.
A queen pursues an unlikely mate in The Colony,
a quirky comedy by Lisa Codrington & Kevin Morse, and in The
Shaman’s Tale, Krista Dalby and Kevin Morse take us on a mythic
journey which ends in the ultimate sacrifice. The program also includes
the screening of The Perfect Match, a film by Krista Dalby and
Anthony Young about a chance encounter that transforms tow lives forever.
Opera to Go 2008 features
soprano Carla Huhtanen, mezzo Jessica Lloyd, tenor Keith Klassen, and
baritone Calvin Powell, accompanied by a chamber orchestra under the
baton of music director Wayne Strongman. Performances will be sung in
English with English surtitles. The show previews on February 14, and
runs from Feb. 15 – 23, at 8 pm, except the Feb. 17 matinee at 2 pm.
Harbourfront Centre Box Office: 416-973-4000 or at www.harbourfrontcentre.com
Finally, a role premiere of note
is the first-ever Siegfried of tenor Ben Heppner, in Wagner’s Siegfried,
slated to take place at the Festival International d’Arts Lyrique
d’Aix-en-Provence this summer. The dates are June 28, July 1, 4, 7.
Tickets go on sale on January 23, 2008 – see http://www.festival-aix.com.
This is part of a continuing new Ring Cycle at Aix. Heppner is slated
to sing the Siegfried in Götterdammerung there next summer,
and rumour has it that he will reprise the role in the new Robert Lepage
Ring at the Metropolitan Opera starting 2012. n