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Heggie and Scheer's Moby-Dick

A Grand Opera for the Twenty-first Century

Robert K. Wallace

Publication Year: 2013

Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s grand opera Moby-Dick was a stunning success in the world premiere production by the Dallas Opera in 2010. Robert K. Wallace attended the final performance of the Dallas production and has written this book so readers can experience the process by which this contemporary masterpiece was created and performed on stage. Interviews with the creative team and draft revisions of the libretto and score show the opera in the process of being born. Interviews with the principal singers and the production staff follow the five-week rehearsal period into the world premiere production, each step of the way illustrated by more than two hundred color photographs by Karen Almond. Opera fans, lovers of Moby-Dick, and students of American and global culture will welcome this book as highly readable and visually enthralling account of the creation of a remarkable new opera that does full justice to its celebrated literary source. Just as Heggie and Scheer’s opera is enjoyed by operagoers with no direct knowledge of Moby-Dick, so will this book be enjoyed by opera fans unaware of Melville and by Melville fans unaware of opera.

Published by: University of North Texas Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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Foreword by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

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pp. vii-viii

The journey to opening night of our opera, Moby-Dick, was one of the most exciting and terrifying either of us could have imagined. From the day in April 2008, when we set to work in earnest on Nantucket Island, we were aflame with the power ...

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pp. x-xii

I knew I wanted to write this book when I experienced the world premiere production of Heggie and Scheer’s Moby-Dick in Dallas on May 16, 2010. I knew I could write such a book when interviewing Jake Heggie in San Francisco one month ...

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Prologue - Setting the Stage

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pp. 1-10

The world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick opera in Dallas in 2010 was a spectacular success. The six performances from April 30 to May 16 filled the new Winspear Opera House with ecstatic audiences. People enjoyed the opera whether or not they knew, or enjoyed ...

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Part 1. Creative Voyage, 2005–2010

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pp. 11-58

Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick opera was commissioned in 2005 and workshopped in 2009 before rehearsals began in late March 2010. The Creative Voyage in this part of the book follows the project as it grew from an idea, to a working libretto, to a score that could be played on two ...

Part 2. Libretto by Gene Scheer: Moby-Dick, An Opera in Two Acts

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pp. 59-92

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Part 3. Rehearsing a World Premiere, March–April 2010

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pp. 93-120

Rehearsals for the Dallas Moby-Dick began on Monday, March 29, and concluded on Wednesday, April 28. All rehearsals for Week 1 were at the KRPC Rehearsal Center. After the stage of the Winspear Opera House was loaded at the beginning of Week 2, rehearsals took place in ...

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Part 4. Moby-Dick on the Opera Stage

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pp. 121-124

Arriving early for the last performance of the run, the Sunday matinee on May 16, I immediately sensed something special going on. The lobby of the Winspear Opera House was packed, and so was the huge lecture room that was filling up for the pre-performance lecture. The lecture would normally have ...

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Act 1

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pp. 124-163

Act 1 carries the audience through ninety minutes of uninterrupted music and action from the Prelude through scene 7. Each section below highlights isolated elements ...

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Act 2

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pp. 164-197

Day 1 of Act 2 is so seamless, its action is so continuous, that its division into three scenes is needed only for those who may wish to stage the opera or write about it. The audience in the theater experiences one continuous ...

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Bows, Backstage, and Bios

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pp. 198-205

..To tumultuous applause on opening night, with shredded programs being thrown from the top tiers of the opera house, the performers returned ...

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Epilogue - Sailing On

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pp. 207-214

The world premiere in Dallas in April and May 2010 introduced Moby-Dick to the opera world and revealed its power to attract and inspire audiences. The Australian premiere in Adelaide in August and September 2011, the Canadian premiere in Calgary in January and February 2012, and ...


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pp. 215-216

References and Resources

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pp. 217-221


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pp. 223-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781574415209
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415070

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 230 color illus.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 843881923
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Heggie and Scheer's Moby-Dick

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Subject Headings

  • Heggie, Jake, 1961- Moby-Dick.
  • Opera -- Production and direction -- Texas -- Dallas.
  • Operas -- First performances -- Texas -- Dallas.
  • Melville, Herman, 1819-1891 -- Musical settings -- History and criticism.
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