Opera thrives on revivals. Unlike plays and musicals, which replenish themselves at a brisk pace, new operas are few and far between. But the Dallas Opera has nurtured new works in recent years (three in 2015 alone), and leading off the pack was 2010’s Moby-Dick by Jake Heggie (libretto by Gene Scheer). It made an impact — both modern and classic, with some of the most gorgeous passages in contemporary classical music. It’s only been six years since Dallas audiences last saw this production, but that’s not unusual in the opera world, and certainly not unwelcomed. Employing most of the same set and projections (technologically, it borders on wizardry) and even some of the same cast, it holds up beautifully.
Like the novel it’s based on, Moby-Dick is a testosterone-laden ensemble piece (there is one “trouser” role, with Jacqueline Echols as Pip), but despite the strong performance by Jay Hunter Morris as the revenge-obsessed Capt. Ahab and Stephen Costello as Greenhorn (aka the young narrator), who has always been more impressive vocally than dramatically, it’s Morgan Smith as Starbuck who makes the strongest statement: A physical, tender, powerful performance in a show that dazzles visually, emotionally and musically (under maestro Emmanuel Villaume’s baton). If you missed it in 2010, this is your chance to correct that loss — and see it even better than before.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2016.