Call me Ishmael. It’s a line well remembered in the minds and hearts of literary types as the first sentence in Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, the age-old story of Ahab versus the great white whale. Now the tale spun mostly on the high seas premieres in Dallas tonight as the first ever operatic version to hit the stage. The Arts District’s beautiful Winspear Opera House will host the event, now through May 16th.
Jake Heggie, the critically acclaimed composer of the opera Dead Man Walking, proposed the idea of making Moby Dick an opera to producer Jonathan Pell five years ago, who thought there had to be an easier and less expensive project to tackle. But Heggie got his way, so now Dallas will finally get ours. With a libretto by Gene Scheer (An American Tragedy, To Hell and Back), the star-studded cast of Moby-Dick includes the world famous heldentenor Ben Heppner as the vengeful Captain Ahab, Morgan Smith as the sensible Starbuck and Stephen Costello as Greenhorn, as well as a large male chorus. To wind an epic novel down to a three hour opera is no easy feat, but Heggie’s musical compositions and use of the grand themes and layers of the story are suspected to be the best so far in his career.
Although Mobu Dick hardly seems to change scenery much (most of the tale takes place on the ship Pequod), the producers guarantee audiences are in for a visual experience of a lifetime, designed by two-time Tony Award-nominee Robert Brill and Broadyway vets Jane Greenwood and Donald Holder. Tickets are on sale now at www.dallasopera.org.