Opera Warhorses

An appreciation and analysis of the 'Standard Repertory' of opera

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In Quest of American Operas – October 2015 through August 2016

October 1st, 2015

During 2015-16 I will be reviewing American operas by Adamo, Barber, Floyd, Getty, Heggie, Little, Sondheim and Ward in California, Texas and New York State.


Moby Dick (Heggie), Los Angeles Opera, October 31, November 7, 15(m), 19, 22(m) and 28, 2015.

Jay Hunter Morris is Captain Ahab and Morgan Smith is his first mate Starbuck. Nicholas Brownlee is Greenhorn and South African bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana is Queequeg. Jacqueline Echols is the cabin boy Pip. Malcolm MacKenzie and Matthew O’Neill are Stubb and Flask. James Conlon conducts.

[Below: The Greenhorn (Joshua Guerrero, left) is being taught how to operate in the ship’s riggings by his friend Queequeg (Musa Ngqungwana, top); edited image, based on a Craig T. Mathew photograph, courtesy of the Los Angeles Opera.]


The Jake Heggie-Gene Scheer collaboration is produced by Leonard Foglia with sets by Robert Brill and costumes by Jane Greenwood.

For my previous reviews, see: World Premiere: Heggie’s Theatrically Brilliant, Melodic “Moby Dick” at Dallas Opera – April 30, 2010 and also A Majestic West Coast Premiere for Heggie’s “Moby Dick” – San Diego Opera, February 18, 2012 and also Another Opera House Conquered: Ovations for Heggie’s “Moby Dick” at San Francisco Opera, October 10, 2012 and also A Second Look: A Bright Future for Heggie’s Magnificently Melodious “Moby Dick” – San Francisco Opera, October 21, 2012.

For my performance review, see: Review: Maestro Conlon Captains Another Successful Launch for Heggie’s “Moby Dick” – Los Angeles Opera – November 22, 2015.]


JFK (Little), Fort Worth Opera, April 23, May 1(m) and 7, 2016.

David T. Little’s Opera “JFK” has its world premiere at Fort Worth Opera. Little’s librettist for “JFK” is Royce Vavrek, with whom he collaborated on his previous opera, “Dog Days”. The Fort Worth cast includes Matthew Worth, Talise Trevigne, Sean Panikkar, Daniel Okulitch and Daniela Mack.

[Below: John F. Kennedy (Matthew Worth, right) and Jacqueline Kennedy (Daniela Mack, left) prepare to leave Fort Worth for the Dallas motorcade; edited image, based on a Nine Photography photograph, courtesy of the Fort Worth Opera.]

Theodore Strassberger designs the sets, Steven Osgood conducts.

[For my performance review, see: World Premiere Review: “JFK”, a Fort Worth Fantasy – April 23, 2016.]


Vanessa (Barber), Santa Fe Opera, July 30, August 3, 12, 18 and 24, 2016.

Conductor Leonard Slatkin returns to the Santa Fe Opera for its company premiere and new production of Barber’s “Vanessa”. Soprano Erin Wall is Vanessa, mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez is Erika and contralto Helene Shneiderman is the Old Baroness.

[Below: Anatol (Zach Borischevsky, left) finds that Erika (Virginie Verrez, center) can resist his charms; edited image, based on a Ken Howard photograph, courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera.]


Zach Borichevsky is Anatol. Star bass-baritone James Morris is the Old Doctor. The new production will be directed by James Robinson, with sets designed by Allen Moyer and costumes by James Schuette.

[For my performance review, see: Review: An Elegant Production of Barber’s “Vanessa” at Santa Fe Opera, July 30, 2016.]


The Crucible (Ward), The Glimmerglass Festival, July 23, 31(m), August 2(m), 5, 8(m), 14(m), 18, 20(m) and 27(m), 2016.

Robert Ward’s “The Crucible”, whose libretto is by Bernard Stambler, adapted from Arthur Miller’s play, recounts incidents of the Salem Witch Trials, while standing as an allegory to the mid-20th century “investigatory” hysteria we know as McCarthyism.

[Below: Four young women residing in Salem Village pretend to agents of God, empowered to identify those men and women engaged in witchcraft and serving the Devil; edited image, based on a Karli Cadel photograph, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival.]


Nicole Paiement conducts and Francesca Zambello directs a new production with sets by Neil Patel and costumes by Jessica Jahn. Jamie Barton is Elizabeth Proctor, Brian Mulligan is John Proctor, Jay Hunter Morris is Judge Danforth and David Pittsinger is Reverend John Hale.

[For my performance review, see: Review: Mulligan, Barton, Zambello, Paiement Make the Case for “The Crucible” – Glimmerglass Festival, August 5, 2016.]


This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed from October 2015 through April 2016:

Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the San Francisco Opera, Bellini’s “Norma” at the Los Angeles Opera and Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart) at the Seattle Opera. [See In Quest of High Drama in Early 19th Century Opera – September 2015 to March 2016.]

Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the San Francisco Opera and Los Angeles Opera [See In Quest of Mozart Operatic Magic – July 2015 to March 2016.]

Heggie’s “Great Scott” at The Dallas Opera and Adamo’s “Becoming Santa Claus” at The Dallas Opera [See In Quest of Operatic World Premieres – June-December, 2015.]

Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” at the San Francisco Opera [See In Quest of Operas by Wagner and Richard Strauss: March-November, 2015.]

Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” at the San Francisco Opera and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Houston Grand Opera [See In Quest of “Figaro” Operas – February 2015 through February 2016.]

Getty’s “Usher House” and Debussy’s “La Chute de la Maison Usher” at the San Francisco Opera [See Anticipated Operatic “Double Bills” in Los Angeles and San Francisco – Fall, 2015.]

Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”, Dvorak’s “Rusalka” and Floyd’s “Prince of Players” at the Houston Grand Opera and Massenet’s “Manon” at The Dallas Opera. [See Engaging Operatic Fare in Texas – October 2015 – March 2016.]

Puccini’s “Tosca” at the Houston Grand Opera and San Diego Opera and Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at the Los Angeles Opera and the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Butterfly” in the American Southwest – October 2015 to December 2016.]


Tags: Quests and Anticipations