San Francisco Opera
Herman Melville fans will be relieved to know that this operatic adaptation of the novelist’s masterwork is “appropriately epic in scale,” said Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle. Neither composer Jake Heggie nor librettist Gene Scheer “shies away from the hugeness” of the undertaking, and San Francisco has been given the chance to see this Moby-Dick in “the same theatrically stunning production” that attended its 2010 world premiere in Dallas. But for all the “muscular expressiveness” of Heggie’s score, “the most brilliant aspect” of this project is how confidently the collaborators sorted through “the profuse overgrowth” of Melville’s whaling-ship epic to find drama in “the tiny moments of love and grace that animate the whalers’ lives.” The climactic confrontation with Moby Dick falls flat, but the rest is “a masterpiece of clarity and intensity.”
There are times when Heggie’s score “veers toward high-end Broadway musical territory,” said Philip Campbell in the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter. But the only real complaint I have is that Ahab should have been a bass. Despite strong work by tenor Jay Hunter Morris, Ahab’s big moments “just don’t have the weight suggested by the orchestral accompaniment.” Still, the production is executed with such aplomb that “it would be a sin not to share the experience with the rest of the country.” Fortunately, PBS’s Great Performances is taping it for a national broadcast sometime next year.