Back by popular demand! Moby-Dick, which “opened in a blaze of glory” in 2010, has been met with thunderous applause and critical acclaim in ports of call around the world since its maiden voyage at The Dallas Opera. Composer Jake Heggie, and librettist Gene Scheer based their work on Herman Melville’s epic tale of Captain Ahab’s obsession with the great white whale, Moby-Dick.
Starring Jay Hunter Morris • Stephen Costello • Morgan Smith • Musa Ngqungwana • David Cangelosi • Jacqueline Echols
Conductor Emmanuel Villaume • Production and Original Director Leonard Foglia • Revival Director and Choreographer Keturah Sitckann • Set Design Robert Brill • Costume Designer Jane Greenwood • Light Design Gavin Swift • Projection Design Elaine J. McCarthy
Opera in Brief
Unfamiliar with this opera? Let YouTube’s fizzylimon introduce you!
Scenes 1 to 4. Day One: The whaling ship Pequod has been at sea for one week
Captain Ahab stands alone on deck in the hours before dawn. Below deck, while most of the crew sleeps, the harpooneer Queequeg prays and wakes Greenhorn, a loner and newcomer to whaling. Dawn breaks and the call is made for “All Hands!” While the crew is raising the ship’s sails, Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask talk about Ahab, whom no one has seen since the ship left Nantucket.
The crew sings of whales, wealth and home when suddenly, Captain Ahab appears. He tells them of Moby Dick, the white whale that took off one of his legs, then nails a gold doubloon to the mast and promises it to the man who first sights him. This is the real reason they have sailed, he explains: to search the globe to find and destroy this one whale. His rousing call of “Death to Moby Dick!” excites everyone but the first mate, Starbuck. To no avail, he confronts Ahab about what he sees as a futile and blasphemous mission.
Starbuck instructs Greenhorn about the dangers of whaling. When he ponders never again seeing his wife and son, he is overcome with emotion and orders Queequeg to complete the lesson. Stubb sights a pod of whales, but Ahab will not allow the eager crew to hunt since they have not yet found Moby Dick. Starbuck orders the crew to sail on and sends Greenhorn up to the lookout on the masthead, joined by Queequeg.
As the sun begins to set, Ahab looks over the wake of the ship and mourns that his obsession deprives him of any enjoyment of beauty. All is anguish to him. At the masthead, Queequeg and Greenhorn look over the world, while Starbuck, on deck, bemoans Ahab’s madness.
Scenes 5 to 7. Day Two: Three months later
After three months without a single whale hunt, Stubb jokes with the young cabin boy Pip about the sharks circling the ship. The song ignites a dance for the full crew, but rising tensions take over and a dangerous racial fight erupts. When Greenhorn suddenly sights a pod of whales, Starbuck is at last able to persuade Ahab to let the men hunt. Starbuck and Stubb harpoon whales, but Flask’s boat is capsized and Pip is lost at sea.
On board the Pequod, an enormous whale is being butchered and the oil rendered in the burning tryworks. Flask tells Ahab that the search for Pip is under way, but Ahab thinks only of finding Moby Dick. As they butcher the whale, the crew imagines Pip lost and struggling in the heart of the sea. Flask tells Starbuck that many oil barrels are leaking and he goes below to tell Ahab they must find a port for repairs.
Ahab is unmoved by Starbuck’s report, and is concerned only with the white whale. When Starbuck refuses to leave, Ahab grabs a musket and orders him to his knees. From afar, Greenhorn shouts that Pip has been found. Ahab orders Starbuck out of the cabin.
On deck, the crew listens to Greenhorn describe how Queequeg rescued Pip. As the men return to work, Greenhorn pleads with Starbuck to get help for Pip, who has gone mad. But, the first mate ignores him. Greenhorn observes how life really works on the ship and decides to befriend Queequeg.
Starbuck returns to Ahab’s cabin, where he finds the captain asleep. He picks up the musket with which Ahab had threatened him and contemplates what he should do. Pull the trigger and he may survive to see his wife and child again. When Ahab cries out in his sleep, Starbuck replaces the musket and leaves the cabin.
Scenes 1-3. Day Three: One year later
An enormous storm is approaching, but Stubb, Flask and the crew sing a jolly work song. From the mastheads, Greenhorn and Queequeg talk of traveling together to his native island. Greenhorn wants to learn Queequeg’s language and write down their adventures. Suddenly, Queequeg collapses. The crew gets him down and Ahab announces he will take the masthead watch himself, as he wants to sight Moby Dick first.
Below deck, Queequeg tells Greenhorn that he is dying and asks that a coffin be built for him. Pip enters from the shadows and sings a lament, joined by Greenhorn.
The massive storm now surrounds the Pequod. As Ahab sings defiantly to the heavens, bolts of lightning engulf the ship and the masts glow with St. Elmo’s fire. Ahab demands that the men hold their posts, promising them the white flame is a sign from heaven to guide them to the white whale. The crew is inspired once again by the captain, much to Starbuck’s distress.
Scenes 4 to 7. Day Four: The next morning
The ship has made it through the storm. From afar, the voice of Gardiner, captain of the Rachel, calls out. He pleads with Ahab to help him search for his 12-year-old son who was lost in the storm, but Ahab refuses. Pip shouts to Gardiner of the Pequod’s own lost boy. Pip cuts himself and gets blood on Ahab’s clothes. The captain orders the ship to sail on, leaving Gardiner behind. Ahab contemplates the heartless God who devastates so many lives and baptizes his new harpoon with Pip’s blood.
Below deck, Greenhorn sees Queequeg’s newly built coffin and contemplates the madness that seems to surround him.
On deck, Ahab and Starbuck gaze over the horizon. Ahab describes his forty years at sea and all he has left behind. And why? To what end? He cannot say. But he sees in Starbuck’s eye a human soul and it touches him deeply. Starbuck seizes the moment and persuades Ahab that they should return to the wives and sons who wait for them in Nantucket.
Just as Ahab appears to relent, he sights Moby Dick on the horizon. Great excitement ensues and the whale boats are lowered. Ahab looks again in Starbuck’s eye and orders him to stay on board. The crew declares its loyalty to Ahab. During the chase, Moby Dick destroys two whaleboats in succession, drowning their crews. Then, the Pequod is rammed and sunk, killing all aboard. Ahab’s boat is then attacked and all but the captain jump or fall off. Finally alone with the white whale, Ahab cries out and stabs at Moby Dick before being dragged down into the sea.
Epilogue: Many days later
Greenhorn floats on Queequeg’s coffin, barely alive, softly singing his lost friend’s prayer. Gardiner calls from afar, thinking he has at last found his missing son. Instead, he learns that Ahab and all the crew of the Pequod have drowned, except for this one survivor.
Jay Hunter Morris (Ahab) Called the quintessential Siegfried of our time, he sang the role at the Metropolitan Opera in a new production that was broadcast live to cinemas worldwide and won a 2012 Grammy Award; and again last season at Houston Grand Opera. Previous appearances here include Paul Die Tote Stadt. He sang Captain Ahab at San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera and in Australia. With a busy international career, Mr. Morris recently appeared in the title role Tristan und Isolde at Polish National Opera; he returns to the Metropolitan Opera later this season as Erik Der Fliegende Holländer. Mr. Morris won great acclaim for the role of the villain Teague in Santa Fe Opera’s Cold Mountain last season, which also played at Opera Philadelphia.
Stephen Costello (Greenhorn) Stephen Costello is “a prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact” (Associated Press). The Philadelphia-born tenor quickly established a reputation as a “first-class talent” (Opera News) after coming to national attention making his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s 2007-2008 season-opening night. Stephen later won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, and has since appeared at the world’s most important opera houses and festivals. Recent engagements include Duca Rigoletto and Lord Percy Anna Bolena (Metropolitan Opera); Duca Rigoletto (Teatro Real Madrid); Des Grieux Manon (Dallas Opera); Edgardo Lucia di Lammermoor (Covent Garden); Nemorino L’elisir (Wiener Staatsoper); title role Roméo et Juliette (Santa Fe) and Alfredo Traviata (Bayerische Staatsoper). Costello returns to the Met as Duca Rigoletto and Roméo and will make his Paris Opera début as Camille Merry Widow.
Morgan Smith (Starbuck) Appearing as Starbuck in its world premiere presentation here, Morgan Smith appeared in Moby-Dick in several other cities and in the PBS Great Performances broadcast. With frequent appearances at Oper Leipzig in roles such as Papageno Die Zauberflöte, Marcello La bohème and Guglielmo Così fan tutte, his US appearances include Sharpless Madama Butterfly, Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro, Escamillo Carmen, and in the title role Don Giovanni and as Four Villians Les contes d’Hoffmann he won high acclaim. Sought-after for his interpretation of contemporary roles, Mr. Smith features the work of Jake Heggie, Kevin Putts and David Martin Levy in his repertoire, and won outstanding reviews as Tadeusz in Weinberg’s The Passenger at Houston Grand Opera and at Lincoln Center.
Musa Ngqungwana (Queequeg) A native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana has been praised by The New York Times for his “rich, glowing voice and elegant legato.” Recent operatic engagements include Mr. Ngqungwana’s Los Angeles Opera company debut as Queequeg in Moby-Dick, his Glimmerglass Festival and role debut as Gottardo in La gazza ladra, his Palm Beach Opera debut as Zuniga in Carmen, a return to Washington National Opera in the role of Stephen Kumalo in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, and Handel’s Messiah at the U.S. Naval Academy. Highlights of future seasons include his Dallas Opera debut in Eugene Onegin and as Queequeg in Moby-Dick, his debut with the Canadian Opera Company as Angelotti in Tosca, and role of Leporello in Don Giovanni with Florentine Opera.
Jacqueline Echols (Pip) Lyric soprano Jacqueline Echols has been praised for her “dynamic range and vocal acrobatics” (Classical Voice) in theaters across the United States. Her 2016-17 season begins with her debut at The Dallas Opera as Pip in Moby-Dick. Echols debuted the role last season in her company debut with Los Angeles Opera, for which Opera Today noted that “the voice of Jacqueline Echols’ Pip soared gracefully over Heggie’s orchestra, soloists and chorus.” Echols performs another of Heggie’s most popular works in February in her return to Washington National Opera as Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking. She finishes the season with her house debut at Pittsburgh Opera in April when she creates the role of Helen in the world premiere performances of The Summer King.
Peter McGillivray (Stubb) Baritone Peter McGillivray reprises the role of Stubb in Moby-Dick after his acclaimed debut with Calgary Opera. The 2016-17 season also sees McGillivray as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with Edmonton Opera and Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera de Quebec, a role previously sung with Pacific Opera Victoria and Opera Lyra Ottawa. Last season, McGillivray sang the role of Barrett in the world premiere of Rocking Horse Winner, a co-production between Scottish Opera and Tapestry Opera Theatre. Recent credits include Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro (Manitoba Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa), Father Palmer in Silent Night (Calgary Opera), Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (Opera de Quebec, Saskatoon Opera), Schaunard in La bohème (Manitoba Opera) and Handel’s Messiah (National Arts Centre Orchestra).
David Cangelosi (Flask) David Cangelosi has established himself as an artist who combines both excellent singing with winning characterizations. In 2004 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Mime in Das Rheingold, conducted by James Levine, and has returned in multiple principal roles over the past twelve years. Upcoming highlights include continuation of a multi-year performance/recording project of the ‘Ring’ with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Der Rosenkavalier with the Boston Symphony, and Madame Butterfly with Dallas Opera. He recently made his company debut with Houston Grand Opera, and reprised his signature role of Mime for the ‘Ring’ with Washington National Opera. Other career highlights include appearances with Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venice Film Festival, and recordings with EMI Classics.
Mark McCrory (Gardiner) One of America’s leading young basses, Mark McCrory has attracted considerable attention for an imposing voice and galvanizing stage presence. He has appeared on the stages of The Dallas Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Florentine Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Indianapolis Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Minnesota Opera, Mobile Opera, Nashville Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Pacific, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Portland Opera, Opera Longview, and the Wichita Grand Opera. As an alumnus of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, he sang numerous roles with the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Mr. McCrory is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Oklahoma.
Emmanuel Villaume (Conductor) Entering his fourth season as Music Director of The Dallas Opera, Mo. Emmanuel Villaume returns for three productions in the 2016/17 season. He opens TDO’s season leading performances of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, followed by the highly anticipated return of Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick, which debuted at The Dallas Opera in 2010. In March, Villaume revisits his acclaimed interpretation of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at The Metropolitan Opera. The Chicago Classical Review praised Villaume’s conducting of Roméo et Juliette at the Lyric Opera of Chicago last season, proclaiming, “Villaume is almost without peer in this repertory, and his conducting provides a virtual seminar in how French opera should be performed.” Villaume returns to TDO to conduct Norma in April, followed by his return to the Santa Fe Opera.
Leonard Foglia (Production and Original Director) Leonard Foglia (Director) Opera World Premieres: Moby-Dick (filmed for PBS), Everest, Cold Mountain, The End of the Affair, Three Decembers. His production of Dead Man Walking has been seen across the country. As a librettist, he wrote (and directed) El Pasado Nunca Se Termina with composer Jose Martinez for Lyric Opera of Chicago, A Coffin In Egypt with composer Ricky Ian Gordon and Cruzar La Cara De La Luna with composer Martinez for Houston Grand Opera. Original Broadway productions: Master Class (West End, National tour), Thurgood (filmed for HBO), The People In The Picture (Roundabout). Broadway revivals: The Gin Game, On Golden Pond, Wait Until Dark. Off-Broadway: Let Me Down Easy (filmed for PBS), One Touch of Venus. Upcoming: Heggie and Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life at Houston Grand Opera.
Keturah Stickann (Revival Director & Choreographer) Keturah Stickann’s recent credits include La traviata for Chautauqua Opera, Orpheus and Euridice for The Vermont Opera Project, Macbeth for Kentucky Opera, Il trovatore for Knoxville Opera, Madama Butterfly for Opera Colorado, and Don Quichotte for San Diego Opera. She is a frequent collaborator of Leonard Foglia’s and their projects include Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick (Associate Director/Movement Director), Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt (Assistant Director) and Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain (Assistant Director). Other credits Don Giovanni for the Janiec Opera Company, Flight for Opera Fayetteville as well as Rigoletto for Opera Memphis, The Tales of Hoffman and Manon for Knoxville Opera. Upcoming productions include Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera Colorado, L’elisir d’amore for Opera Birmingham, and The Dialogues of the Carmelites for Rutgers University.
Robert Brill (Set Designer) designed the world premiere of Moby-Dick for Dallas Opera, as well as its productions in Australia, Canada, San Diego, and San Francisco. His other designs for opera include Faust for the Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera, Doubt for Minnesota Opera, as well as the world premiere productions, Cold Mountain and The Manchurian Candidate. His designs for Broadway include Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar, Assassins (Tony nomination), Guys and Dolls (Tony nomination), A Streetcar Named Desire, Design for Living, Buried Child, and many others. Other designs include Sinatra at Radio City Music Hall, On the Record for Disney Theatrical,American in Paris for Boston Ballet, A Clockwork Orange for Steppenwolf, Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 for the Mark Taper Forum and McCarter Theatre, and The Laramie Project for BAM and other theaters throughout the U.S.
Jane Greenwood (Costume Designer) Jane Greenwood, costume designer, was trained at Central School of Arts & Crafts, London. She has designed 135 Broadway productions, as well as designs for film (Arthur, Can’t Stop the Music, Glengarry Glen Ross) and TV (Kennedy miniseries and American Playhouse. Her many regional theatre credits include The Guthrie, American Shakespeare Festival (Connecticut), Mark Taper Forum, and the Shakespeare Theatre (Washington). At the Metropolitan Opera she has designed Dialogues of the Carmelites and The Great Gatsby. Professor of Design at Yale School of Drama since 1976, her numerous awards include Irene Sharaff Award 1998, Helen Hayes Award 2010, Lucile Lortel Award 2001, Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement 2014, and 19 Tony Award Nominations including this year for Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Gavan Swift (Lighting Designer) graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1994. He has been in constant demand as a lighting designer for plays, musicals, dance, and corporate events. His musical lighting designs include The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Hot Shoe Shuffle, Little Shop of Horrors, Sweet Charity, Fiddler on the Roof, Jolson, Buddy, Oh What A Night, Footloose, Hair, Xanadu, and Saturday Night Fever, both in Australia and on London’s West End. He has also designed the lighting for the Production Company’s concert versions of Anything Goes, Sugar (Some Like It Hot), The Music Man, Hair, Mack & Mabel, and their inaugural production of Mame. For Bell Shakespeare, Swift has designed the lighting for The Winter’s Tale, Pericles, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Elaine J. McCarthy (Projection Designer) maintains an international career in projection design spanning 20 years and encompassing nearly every area of live performance. Her opera credits include Everest, La wally, Moby-Dick and Tristan und Isolde with the Dallas Opera, Mazeppa with the Metropolitan Opera, Dead Man Walking with New York City Opera, War and Peace with the Metropolitan Opera and Kirov Opera, Tosca with Opera Festival of New Jersey, and The Peony Pavilion at the Wiener Festwochen. Additional career highlights include the Broadway productions of Wicked, Spamalot, Assassins, Man of La Mancha, Into the Woods, Thurgood, and Judgment at Nuremberg, as well as the Off-Broadway productions of Frequency Hopping (set and projections), and Distracted (set and projections).
Alexander Rom (Chorus Master) is a native of Kharkov, Ukraine, and holds a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Leningrad Conservatory of Music. Since immigrating to the U.S., he has worked as a performer, conductor, educator, voice teacher, opera coach, and composer. He has been the chorus master for The Dallas Opera since 1990 and an opera coach with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival, Cincinnati Festival, and Ravinia Festival. He has worked with world renowned singers including Paul Plishka, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Jorma Hynninen, Helga Dernesch, Martti Talvela, Joyce DiDonato, and Jerry Hadley. Maestro Rom is an honorary Visiting Professor at Sibelius Academy Helsinki Conservatory and was a Visiting Professor at Savonlinna Opera Festival Music Institute.