Home / Trending / From 135 chapters to under 3 hours of epic journey, here’s the story behind Utah Opera’s new read on ‘Moby-Dick’

From 135 chapters to under 3 hours of epic journey, here’s the story behind Utah Opera’s new read on ‘Moby-Dick’

Kristine McIntyre has read “Moby-Dick” seven instances so that you don’t have to.

“I had to know the novel so I could know what was essential,” mentioned McIntyre, who had resisted studying Herman Melville’s vintage story for years.

In addition to telling the story of Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge on the mythical beast that value him a leg, the 135 chapters of ”Moby-Dick” come with notoriously detailed digressions about whaling, whales (in nature and in artwork), ropes, hearth, even the colour white. But she dived in, and was once hooked, when Utah Opera employed her to direct its new manufacturing of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s 2010 opera primarily based on the novel. It opens Jan. 20 at the Capitol Theatre.

“Most contemporary American opera is issue-based,” she mentioned. “But audiences come to expect a story. We’ll be telling them a story.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kristine McIntyre, the director of Utah Opera’s upcoming “Moby-Dick,” is a big Melville nerd who has read the guide seven instances since Utah Opera employed her for the gig. Here, she works with Musa Ngqungwana, middle, and Joshua Dennis on the set at the Capitol Theatre.

That isn’t to say “Moby-DIck” doesn’t discover problems. “There is hyperrealism in the novel, but it’s also about big questions about God, the devil, friendship,” McIntyre mentioned. As the characters shuttle from cold Nantucket to the tropics on their two-year voyage, “there’s also a psychological/social journey and a journey into the heart of darkness” as their venture adjustments from trade to vengeance.

“It can be a career-defining role … a role that consumes you,” mentioned tenor Roger Honeywell, who will painting Captain Ahab. (Longtime Utah Opera fanatics may recall his portrayal of Jim Casy in “The Grapes of Wrath” 10 years in the past.)

Because Honeywell has two running legs, a unique harness cinches up his left leg behind him for every of the 5 performances (and several other rehearsals), and a 10-pound picket peg leg is strapped on. It’s as painful because it sounds, he mentioned, particularly bearing in mind Ahab should navigate steps and a rotating degree.

“It’s a work of sheer pain. I can’t help but be informed by it,” he mentioned. “It puts me in a very dark mood.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Roger Honeywell navigates the degree of Utah Opera’s “Moby-Dick” on a prosthetic peg leg. The singer, who portrays Captain Ahab in Jake Heggie’s 21st-century opera primarily based on the vintage Herman Melville novel, has his left leg strapped behind him for each and every efficiency. He says the consistent ache is helping him get within his personality’s head.

“It’s interesting to watch his frustration, which is the same as Ahab’s frustration, having been able-bodied and sailed for 40 years,” McIntyre mentioned. “Ahab would not accept help. He’s always apart in that way.”

Bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana, on the different hand, mentioned he’s making an attempt to emulate his personality, the harpooner Queequeg, whom he’s already performed two times.

“He’s uninhibited about many things. I’m thinking about the rent, I’m thinking about health care … I’m thinking about booking my flight. Queequeg doesn’t care about that. He’s carefree. When he feels he’s about to die, he says, ‘Have the carpenter build me a coffin. I’m ready.’ Life and death are one and the same. … I’d love to be that guy.”

The tune is difficult to sing — Ngqungwana mentioned half-jokingly that “you need to take a search party to find your pitches” in spots — however each singers agreed it’s gorgeous and rewarding. Conductor Joseph Mechavich, who has carried out “Moby-Dick” two times, went even additional, calling it his favourite opera.

“It’s an amazing, epic masterpiece,” he mentioned.

“Jake Heggie is part of a movement that says it’s no longer completely unacceptable to use traditional harmony,” set clothier Erhard Rom mentioned. “You can’t go back to Puccini, but using tonal chords doesn’t make you a hack.”

Scheer, the librettist, informed The New York Times that about 50 % of the phrases in the opera come directly from the novel; Honeywell marveled at the librettist’s incisive adaptation. “Enough can’t be said about Gene Scheer — to take a novel like ‘Moby-Dick’ and condense it to less than three hours is phenomenal.”

The opera premiered in Dallas in 2010. It was once embraced through critics and audiences, with next performances — the true check of a modern opera’s good fortune — being staged in every single place the global, from Calgary, Alberta, to Adelaide, Australia.

Utah Opera is one of 4 corporations that experience pooled assets to create a new manufacturing of “Moby-Dick”; this is, they’ve commissioned a new set and costumes, all built in Utah Opera’s scene and gown stores close to downtown Salt Lake City. (All 4 partnering organizations will use the costumes and set of their performances, however the singers, conductor and director gained’t essentially be the similar.)

Costume clothier Jessica Jahn gave each and every personality a real-life 19th-century counterpart; the singers see images of those males each and every time they fetch their hats or sneakers from the racks. “One thing that’s important for me is that each individual feel like a real person in American history,” she mentioned. After executing her designs, the Utah Opera costumers weathered and distressed the clothes, made it seem blood- and oil-stained, or even added detachable salt stains to the sneakers.

“They did not have clothing from the Gap,” Jahn mentioned.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Scott Tarbet, a member of the refrain in Utah Opera’s new manufacturing of “Moby-Dick,” will get a becoming from gown clothier Jessica Jahn.

Rom mentioned he designed the opera’s summary set, framed through a map of the Pequod’s voyage, to replicate philosophical in addition to bodily realities. “It’s amazing how little it takes to suggest a prow,” he mentioned. “We feel this is stronger than a literal representation.” The viewer’s creativeness, he famous, is an impressive factor.

“Jake said he would shoot himself if we came out with a little boat on wheels,” McIntyre quipped.

In distinction to the epic world-premiere manufacturing, this one will make “Moby-Dick” obtainable to a much broader vary of regional corporations, Utah Opera inventive director Christopher McBeth defined. For instance, video projections performed a outstanding position in Dallas, however no longer all opera manufacturers have the finances for such generation — or the degree area to accommodate the apparatus. Painted backdrops will depict the sea, stars and sky as an alternative. And the rotating disc that dominates Rom’s streamlined degree shall be operated through the choristers who painting the staff of the Pequod. Movement has been choreographed through Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company inventive director Daniel Charon.

“I’m really interested in the human-driven aspect of this story,” McIntyre mentioned.

Sing me Ishmael

Utah Opera gifts Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s operatic adaptation of “Moby-Dick.” The opera is sung in English, however there shall be Supertitles.

When • Opens Saturday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m.; night time performances proceed Jan. 22, 24 and 26, with a 2 p.m. matinee Jan. 28

Where • Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $15-$100; utahopera.org

In a nutshell • A sea captain leads a voyage of revenge towards a huge white whale.

Running time • 2 hours, 40 mins, together with intermission

Learn extra • Heggie, Scheer and director Kristine McIntyre will speak about the paintings at a unfastened match Tuesday, Jan. 16, at four p.m. in the University of Utah’s Thompson Chamber Music Hall, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City. The public is also invited to practice a grasp magnificence through Heggie and Scheer at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Thompson Hall. In addition, Utah Opera main trainer Carol Anderson will be offering lectures an hour earlier than curtain and inventive director Christopher McBeth will average Q&A classes after every efficiency, all in the Capitol Room on the theater’s west facet. Finally, the corporate has posted instructional fabrics at utahopera.org/onlinelearning.

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