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The obvious question is, Why would anyone adapt Herman Melville’s novel, Moby-Dick, into an opera? The prospect is positively Ahab-ian in its mad ambition.
And don’t tell us, “Well, it’s a great story.” Lots of great stories don’t make great (or even good) operas. And they’re not 470 pages long and feature entire chapters devoted to “Cetology,” “The Whiteness of the Whale,” “Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whale” and other musical jewels.
True, the demonically driven Captain Ahab is a natural for an operatic character — he’s already Lear-like and Shakespearean, and Verdi, for one, had a habit of adapting those Shakespeare tragedies with larger-than-life protagonists into little musical shows you may have heard of (Macbeth, Otello). But other than Ahab, what, specifically, just sings out “opera” when you think of the Great White Whale? (And we don’t mean this guy.)
Gene Scheer’s work as a librettist is familiar to Dallas music lovers. His opera, Therese Raquin, received its world premiere from the Dallas Opera in 2001. It has since been performed in Montreal and London. His opera, An American Tragedy, debuted at the Metropolitan in New York.
And, of course, Moby-Dick has its world premiere next week from the DO at the Winspear Opera House.