Here at the Tulsa Opera offices, things are getting very busy very quickly as we gear up for the Oklahoma premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, an opera we have spent several years planning. We have partnered with a number of local organizations to help connect you to the opera in different ways. We have planned an art show (at Living Arts of Tulsa), a screening of the Academy Award winning film (at Circle Cinema), a lecture by Sister Helen Prejean, and a special Inside the Composer’s Studio live interview with Jake Heggie. All of the details for each event is available at www.tulsaopera.com/events
A few months ago, we published some information about Sister Helen Prejean as we were getting ready for this show. Just today, the staging rehearsals have begun and it struck us that as a piece of theatre, this opera is quite masterful. Jake Heggie is quite a talented composer, but you may not have heard of him, so let’s get to know him just a little bit.
Jake Heggie, Composer & Pianist
Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Moby-Dick (libretto: Gene Scheer), Dead Man Walking (libretto: Terrence McNally), Three Decembers (libretto: Scheer), The End of the Affair (libretto: Heather McDonald), To Hell and Back (libretto: Scheer), and the stage works For a Look or a Touch (libretto: Scheer) and At the Statue of Venus (libretto: McNally). He has also composed more than 200 art songs, as well as orchestral, choral and chamber music. His recent recording of songs and duets, PASSING BY: Songs by Jake Heggie, (AVIE), features performances by Isabel Bayrakdarian, Zheng Cao, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Paul Groves, Keith Phares, and Frederica von Stade.
Heggie is the 2010-11 guest artist-in-residence at the University of North Texas at Denton, where he will compose his first symphony, based on several Ahab monologues from the novel Moby-Dick. The “Ahab” Symphony will receive its premiere in 2012 with tenor Richard Croft as soloist. Other current projects include song commissions from Carnegie Hall (for Joyce DiDonato), San Francisco Performances (for DiDonato and the Alexander String Quartet), The Dallas Opera (for baritone Nathan Gunn), and Houston Grand Opera (to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks); as well as a one-act opera for chorus for the John Alexander Singers and the Pacific Chorale, and a new version of For a Look or a Touch that features the 200-voice Seattle Men’s Chorus.
Heggie’s operas have been performed to tremendous acclaim internationally in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, South Africa and by more than a dozen American opera companies, including: San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and Madison Opera. Dead Man Walking has been performed nearly 150 times since its San Francisco premiere in 2000, making it one of the most performed new American operas. Moby-Dick received its 2010 world premiere at The Dallas Opera and was co-commissioned by Dallas with four other companies: San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia.
The composer’s numerous songs and cycles, including The Deepest Desire, Statuesque, Here & Gone, Rise & Fall, Songs & Sonnets to Ophelia, Facing Forward/Looking Back, Friendly Persuasions, and Songs to the Moon, are featured in recitals around the world by some of the world’s most beloved and celebrated singers. Among those who regularly champion Heggie’s works are sopranos Emily Albrink, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Kristin Clayton, Nicolle Foland, Audra McDonald, Emily Pulley, Talise Trevigne, Kiri Te Kanawa; mezzos Zheng Cao, Joyce Castle, Catherine Cook, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Kristine Jepson, Frederica von Stade; Broadway soprano Patti LuPone; tenors Stephen Costello, Paul Groves, Ben Heppner, Nicholas Phan; and baritones Philip Cutlip, Daniel Okulitch, Keith Phares, Morgan Smith and Bryn Terfel.
Heggie is an ardent champion of writers. Most of his operas and stage works feature libretti written by either Terrence McNally or Gene Scheer; while sources for song texts and poetry have also included Maya Angelou, Charlene Baldridge, Raymond Carver, Emily Dickinson, John Hall, A.E. Housman, Vachel Lindsay, Philip Littell, Armistead Maupin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sister Helen Prejean, Gini Savage, Vincent Van Gogh, Frederica von Stade, and Eugenia Zukerman, to name a few. The composer has a close association with the conductor Patrick Summers, who has led the world premieres of all the composer’s major operas; and the director Leonard Foglia, who has directed the premieres of Moby-Dick, Three Decembers, and The End of the Affair, as well as the United States national tour of Dead Man Walking.
Recordings of Heggie’s compositions include PASSING BY: Songs by Jake Heggie (Avie), Dead Man Walking (Erato), Three Decembers (Albany), Flesh and Stone (Americus), To Hell and Back (Magnatune), The Faces of Love (RCA Red Seal), The Deepest Desire (Eloquentia), and For a Look or a Touch (Naxos). Heggie was the recipient of a 2005/2006 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has been composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Opera, Eos Orchestra, and Vail Valley Music Festival. As a coach and teacher, he has given classes at universities throughout the United States and at summer festivals such as SongFest in Malibu and the Steans Institute at Ravinia. Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco. www.jakeheggie.com.
Courtesy of The Official Website of Jake Heggie
© 2010 Bent Pen Music, Inc.