From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell – San Francisco – Part II

by Megan Meister

Tenor Stephen Costello (“Greenhorn” in MOBY-DICK) with his voice teacher Bill Schuman in San Francisco.

It was such a thrill to see MOBY-DICK again last night, with most of the original cast intact from the world premiere in Dallas, along with the original conductor, Patrick Summers and stage director Leonard Foglia.

A large group of Dallas Opera patrons had flown out to San Francisco for the weekend to attend the performance, but they were not the only people on their feet cheering at the end when composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer came out for their bow at the end of the evening!  It was a really exciting performance!

The major cast change was the assumption of the role of “Captain Ahab” by Jay Hunter Morris, and he was intense and compelling in this challenging role.  He had already done the opera in Adelaide and San Diego, but he has grown enormously in the part.  He sings it magnificently, but what has been interesting to see is how his characterization of this complex character continues to grow in depth.

As many of you know, Jay’s career began as a member of The Dallas Opera chorus many years ago, and he has returned often to sing leading roles with the company, including “Steva” in JENUFA and “Bacchus” in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS.  Since he became an “over night” star with his recent appearances as “Siegfried” in the Metropolitan Opera RING cycle, people seem to have forgotten how long this road has been for Jay, and his great success is well deserved.

Stephen Costello, Morgan Smith, Jonathan Lemalu, Talise Trevigne, Robert Orth and Matthew O’Neill all returned to the roles that they created in Dallas, and were simply stunning last night.  Each of them were in top form and gave indelible performances that fortunately will be captured for posterity since this production has been recorded for future telecast on PBS’ Great Performances series.

Today it is back to Dallas and a return to rehearsals for AIDA which opens our 2012-2013 season on October 26th.

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