Washington National Opera Presents East Coast Premiere of MOBY DICK, 2/22-3/8
Washington National Opera (WNO) continues its 2013-2014 season with the east coast premiere of the new American opera Moby-Dick, February 22 to March 8 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Written by composer Jake Heggie and featuring an English- language libretto by Gene Scheer based on Herman Melville's 19th-century literary classic, Moby-Dick sweeps audiences straight out to the high seas with its massive nautical sets and dazzling multimedia visual effects, in what is perhaps the most technically challenging opera WNO has ever mounted. Renowned American director Leonard Foglia leads a talented all- American cast in performances conducted by Evan Rogister, a dynamic young American maestro making his WNO debut.
Bent on killing the fabled white whale that severed his leg, Captain Ahab relentlessly scours the ocean, without regard for the crew who serves him aboard the Pequod. Among his loyal shipmates-including lookout Greenhorn, cabin boy Pip, and island native Queequeg-only first mate Starbuck recognizes the futility of their pursuits. As Ahab spirals further into madness with each rising wave, no one can escape the inevitable, epic showdown between man and beast.
Jake Heggie is one of the most celebrated contemporary composers of American opera; his first opera Dead Man Walking (libretto by Terrence McNally) has received more than 40 productions since its premiere at the San Francisco Opera in 2000, making it one of the most performed new American operas. Other operas include Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, and Out of Darkness: a triptych of Holocaust stories (Another Sunrise; Farewell, Auschwitz; and For a Look or a Touch). He has also composed more than 250 art songs, as well as orchestral, choral, and chamber music. His new recording of songs, here/after (PentaTone Classics) features performances by Joyce DiDonato, Nathan Gunn, and Moby-Dick stars Stephen Costello and Talise Trevigne. Heggie has also served as a mentor to WNO's American Opera Initiative for young composers and librettists for the past two seasons.
American librettist, lyricist, and songwriter Gene Scheer has enjoyed a long collaboration with composer Jake Heggie. In addition to Moby-Dick, their work includes Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, For a Look or a Touch, and the song cycles Statuesque and Rise and Fall. He was the librettist for two projects with Tobias Picker: An American Tragedy, which received its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005, and The?re?se Raquin, which had its premiere at The Dallas Opera in 2001. Scheer is currently at work with composer Jennifer Higdon on an operatic adaptation of the National Book Award-winning novel Cold Mountain for Santa Fe Opera.
Leading the WNO Orchestra in his WNO debut is the dynamic young American conductor Evan Rogister, who served for two years as the principal assistant conductor at Deutsche Oper Berlin. His most recent opera engagements include his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago leading performances of Rigoletto and Andre Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, plus the world premiere of Theodore Morrison's Oscar at Santa Fe Opera. Rogister will conduct the world premiere of Jake Heggie's next opera, Great Scott, at The Dallas Opera in 2015.
American director Leonard Foglia is a leading interpreter of the work of Jake Heggie, including the composer's Three Decembers (San Francisco Opera), The End of the Affair (Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera and Madison Opera), and Dead Man Walking (Opera Pacific, New York City Opera, and in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Detroit). For the Kennedy Center he has directed the plays On Golden Pond (2004), The Subject Was Roses (2006), and Thurgood (2010).
Moby-Dick's all-American cast is led by Arlington, Va.-based tenor Carl Tanner as Captain Ahab and tenor Stephen Costello, who will also star in WNO's production of The Elixir of Love later this season, as Greenhorn. Baritone Matthew Worth is Starbuck, baritone Eric Greene is Queequeg, soprano Talise Travigne (Julie LaVerne in WNO's recent Show Boat) is Pip, and tenor Alexander Lewis is Flask. Other roles in the opera will be performed by members of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, including baritone Christian Bowers as Stubb and baritone Norman Garrett as Captain Gardiner.
The production team includes set design by Robert Brill, costume design by Jane Greenwood, lighting design by Gavan Swift (based on an original design by Donald Holder), projection design by Elaine J. McCarthy, movement and choreography by Keturah Stickann, and hair and makeup design by Anne Ford-Coates for Elsen Associates.
"I am proud that our all-American winter season is culminating with this extraordinary American literary classic told as a powerful theatrical and musical work," said WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. "This production of Moby-Dick exemplifies the sophisticated music and storytelling values that I want us to strive for to be the hallmark of American opera."
Moby-Dick opens on Saturday, February 22 and runs for six performances; other dates are February 25 and 28 and March 2, 5, and 8. Visit WNO's website for complete production details, casting information, and artist biographies.
WNO's 2013-2014 season also includes a revival of Donizetti's comedy The Elixir of Love and a new English-language production of Mozart's classic The Magic Flute. A performance of The Magic Flute will be simulcast to Nationals Park in May as part of M&M'S® Opera in the Outfield. A second season of the American Opera Initiative will continue WNO's efforts to commission new American works with the world-premiere performances in June of An American Soldier by composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang. WNO's 2014-2015 season will be announced in the coming months.
Moby-Dick Performance and Ticket Information
Saturday, February 22 at 7 p.m. • Tuesday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. • Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. • Saturday, March 8 at 7 p.m.
Tickets start at $25 and are available at the Kennedy Center Box Office, by calling (202) 467- 4600 or (800) 444-1324, or online at www.kennedy-center.org. Subscription packages for the 2013-2014 season are also available and can be purchased at (202) 416-8500 or at www.kennedy- center.org.