James Conlon Talks Moby-Dick

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

As the Richard Seaver Music Director at LA Opera, James Conlon has been a driving force within the company since his arrival in the fall of 2006. His wealth of musical expertise and passion has led him to successfully conduct a plethora of productions, including Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. We spoke with Conlon about Moby-Dick and why the production has what the Los Angeles Times deems “staying power.

What about Jake Heggie’s score drove you to want to conduct Moby-Dick

It is very important that we continue to present operas by contemporary American composers here at LA Opera. It was in that spirit this already highly successful opera was chosen. I threw myself into it as is my custom and have found the effort very rewarding.

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015)

Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick (2015)

How is it different conducting a contemporary versus a traditional operatic score?

The only thing that is different is the musical content. The preparation, the rehearsing, the reflection, as well as the physical, emotional, and intellectual engagement is the same for all music, regardless of the genre, the period in which the work was written, and the culture out of which it was born.

What do you think makes Heggie and Sheer’s adaptation so powerful?  

Both are masters of their craft and they have succeeded in an impossible task, which was to select out from this massive novel the necessary parts to create a coherent, dramatic musical entity.


When compared to its contemporaries, what kind of longevity do you foresee Moby-Dick having?

It is difficult to predict anything in today’s world, but I think it stands an excellent chance of prevailing in the future.

Conlon speaks more extensively about Moby-Dick in our Behind the Curtain podcast hosted by Brian Lauritzen. Click here to listen to Conlon and Lauritzen’s discussion.

For more information and to purchase tickets to Moby-Dick, click here. To find out more about our current season, check out our website.


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