* Notes *
Moby-Dick (Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab, Stephen Costello as Greenhorn, and Jonathan Lemalu as Queequeg pictured left; photograph by Cory Weaver) opened at San Francisco Opera on Wednesday evening. The opera premiered at Dallas Opera, and the production has traveled to the State Opera of South Australia in Adelaide, Calgary Opera, and San Diego Opera. Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Sheer managed to distill the sprawling source material into a compelling theatrical work. The music has much appeal, and the production provides spectacle. Some of the staging is not visible in the upper balcony, and some of the voices are not heard to their best advantage from certain parts of the set. However, most of the visual effects are striking, and even beautiful.
Maestro Patrick Summers conducted a fluid orchestra. The performance seemed clean and brilliant, though at times the singers were somewhat muffled by the orchestration. The chorus sounded wonderfully in unison in the scene where the whale boats are lowered to give chase to Moby Dick. The principal cast is formidable. Joo Won Kang's diction was rather good and his Captain Gardiner was sympathetic. Robert Orth (Stubb) and Matthew O'Neill (Flask) were comical. Talise Trevigne's Pip sounded eerie and angelic. Jonathan Lemalu seemed rather creaky as Queequeg at first, but has a robust voice. Morgan Smith was a tormented but tender Starbuck, while Stephen Costello made for a sweet, vulnerable Greenhorn. Jay Hunter Morris triumphed as Ahab, sounding authoritative and full. The baritonal qualities of his voice came out in last night's performance. He was also utterly frightening and commanding in the role.
* Tattling *
There was light talking during Act I, but the chief offenders near me all cleared out by Act II.