Utah Opera's 40th anniversary season continues with Heggie and Scheer's contemporary work, "Moby-Dick"

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (January 4, 2018) --  Utah Opera’s 40th anniversary season continues this January with an all-new production of American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s innovative opera adaption of Melville’s classic novel, “Moby-Dick.” Featuring new sets and costumes constructed by Utah Opera, “Moby-Dick” will be performed five times at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre on January 20, 22, 24, 26 at 7:30 PM, and January 28at 2 PM. Tickets, priced from $15-$100, are available for purchase through www.utahopera.org or by calling (801) 533-6683.

Ever since its 2010 debut at The Dallas Opera, “Moby-Dick” has been described as an “undeniable success” (“The New York Times,”) and has been lauded for its creative stage designs, capturing both the expansiveness of the ocean and intimacy of crew-mates onboard the whaling ship, the Pequod.

However, this production is different—Utah Opera is literally building “Moby-Dick” from the ground up, with goals of making the work as accessible as possible to opera audiences throughout the world. Prior productions of “Moby-Dick” dove deep in their use of technology and set size, but doing so had its drawbacks; only a half-dozen opera companies were able to fit the massive production on their stages. Utah Opera assembled a creative team including director Kristine McIntyre, set designer Erhard Rom, and costume designer Jessica Jahn to work with Utah Opera’s highly respected scenic and costume artisans to bring this new production to reality.

“In this new physical production of ‘Moby-Dick’, Utah Opera is thrilled to show the community its full capability. Our staff artisans represent some of the finest in the industry,” said Artistic Director Christopher McBeth. “Working closely with a world-class director and award-winning designers, they have brought to life one of my dreams and something truly special that will be seen on stages around this country and beyond.” Utah Opera’s “Moby-Dick” is co-produced with the Pittsburgh Opera, Opera San José, Chicago Opera Theater, and Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona).

TenorRoger Honeywell returns to the Utah Opera stage as Captain Ahab, a role he will reprise at the Pittsburgh Opera following this performance. Bass-baritone Musa Nqgungwana will play Queequeg, a role he too will continue on at the Pittsburgh Opera. The cast list proceeds with Joshua Dennis, who makes his Utah Opera debut as Greenhorn, and Baritone David Adam Moore returns to the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre stage as Starbuck after his most recent role as Guglielmo in “Così fan tutte”.

TenorJoseph Gaines, who takes the role of Flask, and baritone Craig Irvin, playing Stubb, both return to the Utah Opera stage after their recent roles in “Le nozze di Figaro.” Soprano Jasmine Habersham will play the role of Pip, the young ship boy, in her Utah Opera debut. Current Utah Opera Resident Artist and baritone Jesús Vicente Murillo will make his official Utah Opera debut as Captain Gardiner. Utah native, tenor, and current University of Utah student Keanu Aiono-Netzler plays Tashtego; continuing the cast list is Nigerian-American baritone Babatunde Akinboboye as Daggoo, a role he performed in the LA Opera production. Finally, Utah native Anthony Buck returns to play the Nantucket Sailor.

Joseph Mechavich, last with Utah Opera for the 2008 production of “Madama Butterfly,” will lead the cast, Utah Symphony orchestra, and Utah Opera Chorus as conductor. Utah audience favorite Kristine McIntyre returns as stage director following acclaimed Utah Opera productions of “Don Giovanni,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “The Pearl Fishers.” Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Artistic Director Daniel Charon reprises his acclaimed partnership with Ms. McIntyre (seen in the 2015 production of “The Pearl Fishers”) as choreographer for the production.

“At its core, ‘Moby-Dick’ is the story of a friendship. It's about how connection with another human being can literally save your life—and maybe your soul,” said Ms. McIntyre. “Darkness and light. Destruction and survival. ‘Moby-Dick’ represents both what is best and worst about us—that our ability to hate and our desire to destroy is surpassed only by our ability to love. It is a story that is elemental, universal and at its core, deeply human.”

The performance will last approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes with one intermission.


Moby-Dick Creators’ Panel
Tuesday, January 16, 2017
Thompson Chamber Music Hall, University of Utah
4:00pm - 5:30pm
Join composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and stage director Kristine McIntyre as they discuss their roles in the creation of Utah Opera’s “Moby-Dick.” The presentation will also include a short performance of numbers from “Moby-Dick” by Utah Opera Resident Artists, and a Q&A session with University of Utah music students. Open to the public—no prior registration required.

Jake Heggie Master Class
Wednesday, January 17, 2017
Thompson Chamber Music Hall, University of Utah
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Watch 10-12 University of Utah vocal music students perform songs by Jake Heggie, and receive insight and responses from Mr. Heggie and “Moby-Dick” librettist Gene Scheer. Open to the public—no prior registration required.

Joseph Mechavich Master Class
Friday, January 19, 2017
Lyric Opera Theatre, located in the Jewel Box north of David Gardner Hall, University of Utah
Join Joseph Mechavich, the conductor of “Moby-Dick,” for a masterclass with University of Utah music students. Open to the public—no prior registration required.

Learn Before You Go
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera's education and community outreach department facilitates an online "learn before you go" series prior to each opera. Online learning materials are prepared by music professors at local universities including Utah Valley University, University of Utah, and Brigham Young University. “Moby-Dick” materials are created by Utah Opera Principal Coach Dr. Carol Anderson They are available online at www.utahopera.org/onlinelearning.

Libretti & Libations
Utah Opera presents Libretti & Libations, a promotion with Salt Lake City's and Park City's top mixologists offering craft cocktails inspired by the storyline and characters of each opera. Participants are encouraged to post photos of the craft cocktails on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #UtahOperaSips to enter a contest to win a pair of tickets to the opera. For more details about Libretti & Libations and a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.utahopera.org/libations.

Opera-tunities Night
Students in grades 7 through 12 are invited to attend Utah Opera's final dress rehearsal on Thursday, January 18 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre through "Opera-tunities Night" for free for public/charter school students and their accompanying teachers, and $5 for private/home schooled students and their accompanying teachers. Visit www.usuoeducation.org/index.php/for-schools/opera-tunities for more information, or call 801-533-6683.

Red Carpet Event
Opening night on January 20 will feature a red carpet event where patrons can pose for a free photo. Photos will be posted on the Utah Opera Facebook page, allowing participants the chance to tag themselves during their night out on the town. Visit www.facebook.com/utahopera for more information. The starting time of the red carpet event is 6:30 PM.

Opera Prelude Lecture
Utah Opera Principal Coach Dr. Carol Anderson will offer an Opera Prelude Lecture, free of charge for ticket holders, in the Capitol Room of the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South) one hour before curtain for each performance.

Q&A Session
Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth will hold a Q&A session, free of charge for ticket holders, immediately following each performance in the Capitol Room of the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South).

Utah Opera Presents
By Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer
Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, 50 West 200 South, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101

January 20, 22, 24, 26 | 7:30 PM |
January 28 | 2 PM |

Composed by Jake Heggie
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Sung in English with English supertitles
Premiere: The Dallas Opera, Texas, 2010
Utah Opera Premiere

Captain Ahab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Roger Honeywell
Greenhorn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joshua Dennis
Starbuck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Adam Moore
Queequeg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Musa Ngqungwana
Flask . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Joseph Gaines
Stubb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Craig Irvin
Pip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jasmine Habersham
Captain Gardiner/Spanish Sailor . . . . .Jesús Vicente Murillo*
Daggoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Babatunde Akinboboye
Tashtego . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Keanu Aiono-Netzler
Nantucket Sailor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Anthony Buck


Stage Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kristine McIntyre
Conductor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph Mechavich
Chorus Master . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Michaella Calzaretta
Set Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Erhard Rom
Costume Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jessica Jahn
Lighting Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marcus Dilliard
Choreographer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daniel Charon
Assist. to the Choreographer . . . . . . . . . . Natalie Desch
Properties Master . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kelly Nickle
Wig/Makeup Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yancey J. Quick
Asst. Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Octavio Cardenas
Stage Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Erin Thompson-Janszen
Asst. Stage Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emily Duffin
2nd Asst. Stage Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . .Annie Brantley
Principal Coach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Carol Anderson
Guest Coach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Stephanie Rhodes
Supertitle Musician/Rehearsal Pianist . . . .Robert Bosworth*

*Current Utah Opera Resident Artist
This performance will last approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes with one intermission.


ACT ONE: On board the Pequod, one week at sea out of Nantucket
Captain Ahab gazes out to sea in the early morning hours while his crew sleeps below deck. Harpooneer Queequeg, a South Sea Islander, wakens Greenhorn (Ishmael in Melville's novel) with his praying. “All hands” is sounded and the ship’s sails are raised while first mate Starbuck and third mate Flask discuss the Captain’s enigmatic absences.

The crew sings of whaling and fortunes to be made and Ahab appears to tell them that the real reason for the voyage is to hunt for Moby-Dick, the white whale that severed his leg.  He commands that no whales are to be taken until Moby-Dick is sighted, and nails a gold coin to the masthead for the first man who sights the monster. All cry out "Death to Moby-Dick." Starbuck finds the mission to be blasphemous, but Ahab is unmoved.

Starbuck tutors Greenhorn in the art of whaling but is overcome with emotion, fearing he may never again see his wife and son. Suddenly, Stubb sights a pod of whales and Ahab arrives to forbid the hunt: Moby-Dick is the true target. The Pequod sails on, with Greenhorn and Queequeg as lookouts.

Ahab is oblivious to the splendor of the scene before him.  Starbuck fears that Ahab has become unhinged and is truly mad.

Three months later
Months have passed with no whales captured, and boredom has set in.  Stubb teases Pip, the cabin boy, but too much caviling within the crew incites a brawl.  Fortunately a whale is sighted, and Starbuck convinces Ahab that the men must hunt. In the process, a whaleboat capsizes and young Pip goes missing.

The men render the slaughtered whale, and the oil is poured into leaking barrels.  Pip is sorely missed and feared dead. Starbuck urges Ahab to put into the nearest port to repair the leaking barrels. But Ahab thinks only of Moby-Dick, and a violent quarrel with Starbuck ensues. As Ahab points a gun at Starbuck, a cry goes up that Queequeg has rescued Pip.

Starbuck, still fearing he will never again see his family, stealthily enters Ahab’s cabin and considers killing the Captain. He finds he cannot and departs.

ACT TWO:One Year Later
As a storm approaches, the crew sings while Greenhorn and Queequeg talk of voyaging together to the Pacific Islander’s home. Queequeg suddenly falls ill and is taken below deck. He tells Greenhorn that he is dying and requests a coffin be crafted for him.

Ahab, who thinks always and only of sighting Moby-Dick, demands to be lifted aloft to keep a lookout.  A massive storm surrounds the ship while lightning bolts bounce around the deck. When St. Elmo's Fire engulfs the mast and the sails, Ahab encourages the crew by claiming it is a sign from Heaven.

The Next Day
The storm has passed. From a whaling vessel nearby, Captain Gardiner solicits the Pequod for help to find his twelve-year-old son who has been washed overboard.  When Ahab stonily refuses, Pip calls out that he, too, is lost and cuts himself, spilling blood on Ahab. As the Pequod sails on, Ahab baptizes his harpoon with Pip’s blood. Below deck, Greenhorn considers the insanity that has afflicted those on board the Pequod.

On deck, Captain Ahab reflects to Starbuck about his forty years at sea and wonders if his life’s journey has had purpose. Sensing a kindred spirit in Starbuck, Ahab is about to agree to return home to Nantucket when he spies Moby-Dick. He orders the whaling boats lowered, and the hunt is on. Ahab insists that Starbuck remain behind on the Pequod.

The great whale destroys two boats, tossing men into the sea, and then assails the Pequod herself.  All crew members are lost save Ahab, who ferociously attacks the whale, only to be dragged down under the waves.

Days later, Captain Gardiner finds Greenhorn half dead, lying on top of Queequeg’s floating coffin. He is the lone survivor of the ill-fated voyage.


Roger Honeywell (Canada)
Captain Ahab
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “The Flying Dutchman”
“La fanciulla del West,” Virginia Opera;
“Cold Mountain,” North Carolina Opera, The Santa Fe Opera;
“Billy Budd,” Des Moines Metro Opera
“Moby-Dick,” Pittsburgh Opera;
“Das Rheingold,” Opéra de Montréal

Joshua Dennis (California)
Utah Opera Debut
“La traviata,” Seattle Opera, Opera Columbus, Opera Idaho;
“Roméo et Juliette,” Minnesota Opera
“Rigoletto,” Minnesota Opera

David Adam Moore (Texas)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Così fan tutte”
“The Exterminating Angel,” Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Salzburger Festspiele;
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Teatro alla Scala;
“Eugene Onegin,” Arizona Opera
“Winterreise,” Portland Opera;
“A Streetcar Named Desire,” Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires

Musa Nqgungwana (South Africa)
Utah Opera Debut
“Porgy and Bess,” Glimmerglass Festival;
“Aida,” English National Opera;
“Tosca,” Canadian Opera Company
“Moby-Dick,” Pittsburgh Opera;
“Carmen,” Opera Philadelphia

Joseph Gaines (Colorado)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Le nozze di Figaro”
“Elizabeth Cree,” Opera Philadelphia;
“Les contes d’Hoffmann,” Hawaii Opera Theater;
“Falstaff,” Resonance Works Pittsburgh
“Turandot,” San Diego Opera

Craig Irvin (Iowa)
Most Recently with Utah Opera, “Le nozze di Figaro”
“Arabella,” Canadian Opera Company;
“Carmen,” Fort Worth Opera;
“Dinner at 8,” Minnesota Opera
“Dinner at 8,” Wexford Festival;
“Silent Night,” Austin Opera

Jasmine Habersham (Georgia)
Utah Opera Debut
“Die Zauberflöte,” Cincinnati Opera;
“The Mikado,” Kentucky Opera;
“Porgy and Bess,” Utah Festival Opera
“Out of Darkness: Two Remain,” Atlanta Opera

Jesús VicenteMurillo (Michigan)
Captain Gardiner/Spanish Sailor
Utah Opera Debut
Current Utah Opera Resident Artist
“Messiah,” Utah Symphony
“Cyrano,” “La fanciulla del West,” Michigan Opera Theater;
“La Cenerentola,” Opera Louisiane
“Gianni Schicchi,” “Die Fledermaus,” Utah Opera

Keanu Aiono-Netzler (Utah)
Utah Opera Debut
“Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “La traviata,” University of Utah;
“Dialogues des Carmélites,” La Musica Lirica
“Candide,” University of Utah

Babatunde Akinboboye (Nigeria)
Utah Opera Debut
“La rondine,” “Il barbiere di Siviglia,” Opera San José;
“La bohème,” Opera San Louis Obispo;
“Moby-Dick,” Los Angeles Opera
“An American Soldier,” Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Anthony Buck (Utah)
Nantucket Sailor
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Man of La Mancha”
“La rondine,” University of Utah;
“Tamerlano,” Standing Opera;
“Carmen,” Utah Opera
“St. Matthew Passion,” Salt Lake Choral Artists;
“Così fan tutte,” Utah Vocal Arts Academy


Kristine McIntyre (Oregon)
Stage Director
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Don Giovanni”
“Billy Budd,” Des Moines Metro Opera;
“Dead Man Walking,” Lyric Opera of Kansas City;
“Jane Eyre” (World Premiere,) Center for Contemporary Opera, NY
“Moby-Dick,” Pittsburgh Opera;
“Florencia en el Amazonas,” Madison Opera

Joseph Mechavich (Philadelphia)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Madama Butterfly”
“Dead Man Walking,” Kentucky Opera;
“Turandot,” Calgary Opera;
“Riders of the Purple Sage,” Arizona Opera
“Florencia en el Amazonas,” San Diego Opera;
“Out of Darkness: Two Remain,” Atlanta Opera

Michaella Calzaretta (Iowa)
Chorus Master
Utah Opera Debut
“Patience,” University Gilbert and Sullivan Society;
“In Memoriam,” “Marilyn’s Room,” New Voices Opera;
“Peter Grimes,” “Carmen,” Indiana University Opera Theater
“Pagliacci,” “Die Fledermaus,” Utah Opera

Erhard Rom (New Jersey)
Set Designer
Utah Opera Debut
“The Shining (World Premiere),” Minnesota Opera;
“Nixon in China,” Royal Swedish Opera;
“Lucia di Lammermoor,” San Francisco Opera;
“Eugene Onegin,” Lyric Opera of Kansas City
“Silent Night,” Washington National Opera, Glimmerglass Festival;
“The Marriage of Figaro,” San Francisco Opera

Jessica Jahn (Brooklyn)
Costume Designer
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Il trovatore”
“The Siege of Calais,” Glimmerglass Festival;
“Norma,” Lyric Opera of Chicago;
“Dead Man Walking,” Washington National Opera
“West Side Story,” “Norma,” Houston Grand Opera

Marcus Dilliard (Pennsylvania)
Lighting Designer
Utah Opera Debut
“Manon,” Opera Santa Barbara;
“Seder,” Hartford Stage Company;
“Refugia,” The Guthrie Theater;
“Florencia en el Amazonas,” Madison Opera;
“Thaїs,” Minnesota Opera

Daniel Charon (Minnesota)
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Aїda”

Artistic Director, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company;
“Faust,” Minnesota Opera;
“The Elephant Man,” Minnesota Opera;
“The Barber of Seville,” “Orpheus and Eurydice,” Opera Colorado;
“Le sacre du printemps,” The Metropolitan Opera

Yancey J. Quick (Utah)
Wig and Make-up Designer
Most Recently at Utah Opera, “Lucia di Lammermoor”
Resident Wig and Makeup Designer, Utah Opera;
Wig Master, Ballet West;
Wig and Makeup Designer, Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre


40th Anniversary Season Sponsor: George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation

Production Sponsor: Janet Q. Lawson Foundation
Presenting Sponsor: AHE/CI Trust

Opera Artistic Director Sponsor: Emma Eccles Jones Foundation

Opera Conductor Sponsor: Patricia A. Richards and William K. Nichols

Opening Performance Sponsor: Carol Franc Buck Foundation
Production supported in part by an award from: National Endowment for the Arts

Floral Season Sponsor: Every Blooming Thing
Cast Party Sponsor: Bambara
VIP Intermission Reception Sponsor: J. Wongs
VIP Intermission Opera Wine Sponsor: Empress Theatre

Tickets are priced from $15-$100 and can be purchased at utahsymphony.org or by calling (801) 533-6683.

About Utah Opera

Utah Opera, established by Glade Peterson in 1978, has been part of the Utah community for 40 years and engages audiences through inspiring operatic performances. The opera company presents four annual productions at the historic Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and regularly partners with Utah Symphony and other organizations for special presentations. In addition to producing classic works from the operatic repertoire, Utah Opera also emphasizes the importance of contemporary American opera, with notable achievements including the 1996 world premiere of David Carlson’s “Dreamkeepers” and the co-commissioning and Western U.S. premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “The Grapes of Wrath” in 2007, presenting the Western U.S. premiere of Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann’s “The Long Walk” in 2016, and leading the creation of a new production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s “Moby-Dick” that will feature a versatile set designed to adapt to a wide range of theater stages, making it possible for more companies to undertake this important 21st century opera.

Utah Opera operates a full production studios where productions are rehearsed and costumes, props and set pieces are designed, made, rented out and stored. The opera currently has 19 full sets and costumes for 50 full productions in its inventory. Utah Opera also offers a Resident Artist Program, a nationally recognized young artist training program for professional singers and pianists who perform for more than 70,000 students each year free of charge through the organization’s education and outreach activities. The Utah Symphony has performed as part of the Opera’s productions since the company’s founding, and the two organizations merged in 2002.

Utah Opera’s current Artistic Director, Christopher McBeth, joined the company in the fall of 2000 and took over primary artistic leadership in 2003. Under his leadership, Utah Opera productions have received acclaim for introducing audiences to the next generation of fine singing actors. Mr. McBeth strives to provide distinguished quality productions that showcase emerging and established artists, celebrate traditional works, and champion the American operatic tradition.

For more information, visit www.utahopera.org.


The Utah Opera 40th Anniversary Season Sponsor is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.