Tag Archives: Morgan Smith
Watch an epic battle of Man vs. Whale, Moby-Dick Edition, above
Get a sneak peek of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick above
Moby-Dick sets sail for one last time today, wowing audiences with masterful staging. In case you’ve missed the Moby-Dick love these past few weeks, check out a few of the below articles and see why Moby-Dick is a classic American opera everyone should experience.
Watch the best of Moby-Dick above
Moby-Dick sets sail for one last time today, wowing audiences with masterful staging. In case you’ve missed the Moby-Dick love these past few weeks, we’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out and see why Moby-Dick is a classic American opera everyone should experience.
Get To Know Moby-Dick
In this edition of questions, learn more about Jay Hunter Morris, the man behind Captain Ahab.
Musa Ngqungwana’s life has always been filled with music. Growing up in Port Elizabeth and later Cape Town, Ngqungwana’s culture was infused with music. There were songs sung at births, weddings, celebrations, songs sung at death, and even gender specific songs sung perhaps to a sweetheart. With the advent of Christian culture and dogma introduced by the British missionaries in early 20th Century South Africa, a huge choral movement swept through the nation and a slew of community choirs and plays opened up. By the time Ngqungwana was born, it had become customary to have community choirs and neighborhood plays. It was at middle school that a young Ngqungwana joined the choir to be close to a girl he loved at the time. While Ngqungwana says he “failed miserably” to win the girl’s affections, the choir stole his heart and he kept singing in the years to come.
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.
Throughout his career, baritone Morgan Smith has portrayed everything from traditional roles (Escamillo in Carmen at Vancouver Opera) to exciting new contemporary work (Lassiter in Craig Bohmler’s upcoming Riders of the Purple Sage at Arizona Opera).
This is the perfect opera to get the would-be reader – intimidated by the sheer size of Melville’s book – a rich, live experience of the Moby-Dick story.
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.
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.
Maestro Conlon is very excited about conducting the upcoming production, Moby-Dick, opening October 31st. Check out why he loves Jake Heggie’s opera and why he thinks you should see it too.
Moby-Dick Highlights Reel
Throughout his career, baritone Morgan Smith has portrayed everything from traditional roles (Escamillo in Carmen at Vancouver Opera) to exciting new contemporary work (Lassiter in Craig Bohmler’s upcoming Riders of the Purple Sage at Arizona Opera). In 2010, Smith originated the role of Starbuck in Heggie’s wildly popular Moby-Dick at Dallas Opera. He has subsequently portrayed Starbuck at San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, and is currently taking on the role here in Los Angeles.
Starbuck is an interesting beast to tackle. According to Smith, throughout the opera, Starbuck seems to be the only character within Captain Ahab’s close circle with “a deep, gut feeling that something’s amiss.” This does not prevent the character from sinking into some of the madness that grips Ahab. This makes it even more interesting for Smith to portray Starbuck, because he can really get into the character’s levels. At first, Starbuck is this strong, family man, whose morality is heavily tested to the point where he considers murdering Ahab to spare his men from a whale of a fate. “We see Starbuck pulled away from the person he wants to be, pulled away from his identity,” says Smith.
This role hits close to home for Smith. Starbuck often sings about his wife Mary and his son waiting for him at home. It’s their memory (and the notion of providing for them) that keeps Starbuck going. When Smith originated the role, Starbuck’s connection to family was already personal. All these years later, it’s even more personal as Smith is now a married father of six. He truly relishes his role as a husband and father, something he brings to the role of Starbuck.
Moby-Dick is an epic production with some pretty impressive numbers to back it. The Moby-Dick set weighs approximately 95,000 pounds. This number includes the masts, rope, sails and cyc (what’s a cyc, you may ask, find out here) – all of which come together on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage to form the Pequod. The Pequod’s masts on stage are 36 feet tall, towering over the opera stage, making the ship come to life (click here to learn more about the anatomy of the Pequod).
Everyone knows the Pequod wouldn’t be complete without 1 fiery cauldron to render whale blubber. Speaking of whale blubber, there are 85 pounds of fabricated whale blubber used in the production of Moby-Dick. There’s no whale blubber without harpoons and other weapons the crew aboard the Pequod use to hunt.