Tag Archives: Herman Melville
Watch an epic battle of Man vs. Whale, Moby-Dick Edition, above
Watch the best of Moby-Dick above
Watch the Moby-Dick set come to life above
Joshua Guerrero didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in opera, and his path towards opera stardom is anything but ordinary. He always loved singing. Yet, it was only after Guerrero joined a choir at the seminary where he studied theology that his opera journey began. After a few years of singing lounge/crooner music (which included a stint as a gondolier on the Las Vegas strip and abroad in Macau), Guerrero moved to Los Angeles to pursue music full-time, enrolling at UCLA. His passion for opera and skilled tenor voice eventually landed him a place in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera, where he made his mainstage debut as Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, soon followed by a return as Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire. Guerrero also went on to place second in Plácido Domingo’s worldwide Operalia competition and tackle the important role of Count Almaviva in the west coast premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles.
This Saturday, the charismatic young tenor will make his role debut as Greenhorn, one of the leading characters in Moby-Dick.
Here’s our Joshua Guerrero edition of Questions.
What do you enjoy most about performing opera?
I perform in hopes of providing a vulnerable and honest message that can heal the audience member from whatever is ailing them. They are leaving their reality after all, wanting to take in a new world that will leave an impression on them. It’s kind of like being a modern showman. This is particularly true of opera, because it’s the ultimate combination of all the arts.
Shipbuilding is an ancient profession that predates the period of recorded time. It’s an old art form that created vessels allowing the earliest humans to conquer rivers and oceans, in search of both food and adventure. Upon these ships, sailors created their own microcosm of reality upon the high seas.
Recreating a ship on stage can take many forms. A ship can be represented by actors physically moving their bodies to form a boat on stage, or it can be a giant prop that the story’s action revolves around. An image of a ship can even be projected on a scrim on stage to represent what’s not physically on stage. In Robert Brill’s grand set design for Moby-Dick, the ship consumes the entire stage. The Pequod, as the whaling ship is called, can be seen from various sides depending on the act and there are multiple parts to make this ship seem very real to singers and audience members alike.
“After much prolonged sauntering and many random inquiries, I learnt that there were three ships up for three-years’ voyages – The Devil-Dam, the Tit-bit, and the Pequod. Devil-Dam, I do not know the origin of; Tit-bit is obvious; Pequod, you will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians, now extinct as the ancient. I peered and pryed about the Devil-Dam; from her, hopped over to the Tit-bit; and, finally, going on board the Pequod, looked around her for a moment, and then decided that this was the very ship for us.” – Ishmael in Melville’s Moby-Dick
Before a single note is sung, the audience is treated to a sophisticated projection of The Pequod, projected onto a blackout curtain on a starry night. This visual treatment represents the masterful design to come. It is only in the second scene of the opera that the first full set can be seen. A center mast sits in the middle of the stage, attached to a diagonal yard arm and a round centerpiece called a “Crow’s Nest.” Both in front of and behind the mast, there are three sails made of scrim—transparent, white fabric upon which images are projected. Below you can also see trusses, ropes, and working pulleys that all add to the realism of the set design. Principal singers, chorus members, and supernumerary climbers are not just miming working on a ship; they are physically involved in the running of The Pequod, which is one of the reasons Brill’s set is so effective.
The winds have shifted! The tide has changed! With the pending arrival of Moby-Dick, we’re on to sea words for #WordWednesday.
PEQUOD (18 Scrabble Points) – The Pequod is the fictitious whaling ship that Captain Ahab and his crew call home, as they sail the seas in search of the elusive white whale, Moby-Dick.
Moby Dick sails to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on October 31st, and the Pequod will be a stunning set to see, consuming the stage with ropes, masts and breathtaking visuals.
In just a few short weeks, Moby-Dick opens at LA Opera. Melville’s tale of obsession, the nature of good and evil, and the search for the elusive, titular, white whale is set to an evocative score by famed American composer, Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking). When Heggie describes tackling the mammoth tale, he speaks of finally finding the music of Moby’s universe in four simple chords. These chords capture the spirit and yearning inherent in Melville’s story and resurface throughout the rest of the score, in a haunting fashion.
As October approaches, we are gearing up for Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. But we can’t help hearing the joyous music coming from The Ahmanson Theatre across the street, currently presenting Center Theatre Group’s The Sound of Music. It got us thinking – what would happen if Maria’s “My Favorite Things” met Moby-Dick?