The Dallas and San Diego Operas to Coproduce Jake Heggie’s ‘Great Scott’


Press release by Edward Wilensky

SAN FRANCISCO, JUNE 20, 2014 – The Dallas Opera proudly welcomes a co-producer, San Diego Opera, to the first major project in fourteen years by critically acclaimed American composer Jake Heggie (Moby-Dick) and Tony Award-winning playwright and librettist Terrence McNally (Master Class).

GREAT SCOTT will star world-renowned mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato in her eagerly anticipated Dallas Opera debut. The world premiere performances in Dallas, with support from The Eugene McDermott Foundation, The Hoblitzelle Foundation and The Carol Franc Buck Foundation, will be staged by Broadway legend Jack O’Brien (former Artistic Director of San Diego’s Old Globe Theater) and conducted by one of the fastest-rising young artists at the podium today: Maestro Evan Rogister.

GREAT SCOTT opens the Dallas Opera’s 2015-2016 Season with five performances scheduled from October 30, 2015 through November 15, 2015 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Additional performances in San Diego will follow in the 2016-17 Season.

Composer Jake Heggie shared the big news today in San Francisco at the Opening Session of OPERA America’s Opera Conference 2014.

“I’m very honored and touched,” said Mr. Heggie, “to be a part of this magical, remarkable occasion.” Word of San Diego Opera’s commitment to the piece was followed by the first public performance of an aria from GREAT SCOTT by acclaimed American lyric soprano Heidi Stober, a principal artist at Deutsche Oper Berlin and a sought-after guest artist in opera houses around the world.

Previous co-commissions and co-productions by the two companies include the tremendously successful adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, brought to the opera stage in 2010 by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer and seen in Canada, San Francisco, Australia and, most recently, in Washington, D.C.; as well as an earlier world premiere production of Thérèse Raquin by composer Tobias Picker and Mr. Scheer.

“For months now, the San Diego Opera saga has been the most closely watched story in the western opera world,” says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. “It is incredibly gratifying to be able to welcome the company as a partner in this exhilarating project. San Diego Opera’s involvement sends a powerful message to our industry—and the message is this: San Diego Opera is here to stay and planning for an exciting future!

“We have tremendous confidence in the leadership exhibited by Carol Lazier and the San Diego Opera Board, as well as William Mason, the Company’s new artistic advisor, and we are certain that San Diego Opera will play a vital and productive role in bringing Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s original concept to life for the enjoyment of audiences everywhere.”

“Jake Heggie is no stranger to San Diego Opera,” shares San Diego Opera Board President Carol Lazier. “After his wildly successful Moby-Dick in 2012, when we heard that Jake was working on a new opera we knew we had to be part of it. At its heart, Great Scott asks ‘What is worth fighting for?’ a question that resonates with us here in the San Diego community.

“This opera also gives us the opportunity to work again with The Dallas Opera, who have been champions for our continued survival since day one, offering advice and logistical support during these transitional times. They are a great partner to work with, having been co-producers on Moby-Dick, co-commissioners on Thérèse Raquin, and partners on productions of Madama Butterfly and Aida over the years. Our participation in Great Scott is a show of support for Jake and The Dallas Opera, a commitment to the future of great American opera, and a statement to let the world know that San Diego Opera is still here and we are not going anywhere.”

“It is extremely gratifying to learn about this co-production of Jake and Terrence’s next opera,” wrote Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America. “The collaboration of these artists promises to add another important work to the American opera repertoire. It is equally exciting that The Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera will work together as co-producers of the piece, demonstrating that bold artistic plans that include new American operas can and should be part of a an opera company’s strategy for long-term success.”

“What a triumph on every level,” said Jake Heggie. “I couldn’t be more grateful to all parties involved.”

“At the heart of GREAT SCOTT are big questions about artistic and personal sacrifice, picking our battles and the kind of cultural legacy we want to leave for the future, as well as our personal responsibility in that legacy. How appropriate that the Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera—two companies that have recently triumphed over adversity—have now become two of the standard bearers in this challenging dialogue! Loyal audiences, staffs and highly motivated leadership are embracing artistic collaborations to keep these companies vital—eyes on the horizon—as they construct a future based on fresh ideas, new works and different perspectives.”

Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie have set GREAT SCOTT in “an important American city” that boasts a respected but struggling opera company and a thriving football team. Arden Scott, the hometown girl who has become an international opera star, has returned to her roots to help save the company. She has chosen not a standard classic or a new work, but a long-lost bel canto opera she recently discovered: Vittorio Bazzetti’s Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii, which has been gathering dust ever since its composition in 1835.

By chance, the opera company is set to give the world premiere the same night the local football team, the Grizzlies, will play in their first Super Bowl across town—an event that will be telecast to 100 million viewers. The owner of the team is married to the opera company’s founder, Winnie Flato. Success on the field is no less important than Arden’s and Maestro Bazzetti’s in the opera house. No wonder Arden finds herself is in a state of personal crisis over the career and life she has chosen as every conceivable disaster seems to await the company.

With a large cast and chorus, two mad scenes, an erupting volcano and a difficult unknown score, will mere human resources be equal to the opera’s inhuman demands? And a defeat at the Super Bowl could be end of Winnie’s opera company as well.

Heggie also remarked, “What an incredibly fun challenge for a composer! To create the sounds of an American opera company as they rehearse a never-heard Italian bel canto opera—and to throw in a fight song for the local football team, as well. I think this is a story we can all relate to!”

Joyce DiDonato, “probably the most in-demand lyric coloratura mezzo in the world” (Opera News), will sing the title role of opera singer Arden Scott for the world premiere performances in Dallas. Miss DiDonato triumphed in recent seasons in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Maria Stuarda, as well as in the Met’s 2011 world premiere of The Enchanted Island, prompting Anthony Tomassini of The New York Times to write, “She commanded the stage from her first showcase scene…singing with cool control, then bursting into fearless flights of passagework.”

Last spring, she dazzled audiences in London as Elena in La Donna del Lago at the Royal Opera House. Michael Church of The Independent raved: “…words fail. No other singer could match what this blonde bombshell from Kansas does, marrying coloratura with the serene liquidity of birdsong to an expressiveness of heart-stopping beauty. Go, listen, and marvel.”

Just weeks ago, Ms. Di Donato received an Honorary Doctorate from Juilliard where she also delivered the commencement address at the 109th Commencement Ceremony. Additionally, Ms. DiDonato was instrumental in the early stages of the “Save San Diego Opera” campaign, encouraging her fans through social media to support the Company’s fight for survival.

For additional information or to arrange interviews, please contact San Diego Opera Director of Public Relations Edward Wilensky at 619-384-7636 or Dallas Opera Director of Media and Public Relations Suzanne Calvin at 817-995-1687 on site in San Francisco.

About San Diego Opera:

San Diego Opera announced its 2015 season and 50th Anniversary on May 19, 2014, after nearly two months of careful deliberations and analysis since the Company announced it was going to close at the end of the 2014 season. During this time, the Company launched a crowd funding campaign that resulted in an unprecedented $2.2 million in public donations, of which 48% were first time donors from 6 countries and 36 States. The outpouring of public support, the unified vision expressed by the company’s management, staff, partners and contractors, and the expert advice of Opera America and the many General Directors of U.S. opera companies who weighed in with encouragement, logistical assistance and statements of solidarity, led the Board of Directors, headed by Carol Lazier, to confidently rescind the original vote to close. The Company appointed former Lyric Opera of Chicago General Director, William Mason, as Artistic Advisor last month and has begun a search for permanent leadership to lead the Company as it reinvents itself to better serve the diverse San Diego community.

About the Dallas Opera:

More than half-a-century of artistic excellence, technical innovation and community engagement have enabled The Dallas Opera to make a major contribution to the international cultural reputation of Dallas and add significantly to the economic impact of the performing arts across North Texas. The Dallas Opera has presented a host of international stars in their American debuts, including Dame Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Jon Vickers, and Plácido Domingo, as well as designer-director Franco Zeffirelli. A champion of new work, The Dallas Opera has presented the American premieres of five operas and additional world premieres. Most recently, the company commissioned composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer to create a tremendously successful new opera based on Herman Melville’s 19th century novel “Moby-Dick,” as well as forthcoming new operas by British composer Joby Talbot (“Everest”), Heggie and Terrence McNally (“Great Scott”), and American composer Mark Adamo (“Young Santa Claus”), all slated to take centerstage in 2015. The Dallas Opera has pioneered classical music simulcasts in North Texas at locations ranging from Klyde Warren Park to AT&T (formerly Cowboys) Stadium and continues to seek new ways to engage the entire community and bring the thrill of opera to people of all ages, educational levels and backgrounds.

Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello in Recital
Balboa Theatre
Friday September 5, 2014 7:00pm

Stephanie Blythe and Craig Terry Presents We’ll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith
Balboa Theatre
Thursday December 11, 2014 7:00pm

La bohème
Giacomo Puccini
San Diego Civic Theatre
Saturday January 24, 2015 7:00pm
Tuesday January 27, 2015 7:00pm
Thursday January 29, 2015 7:00pm
Sunday February 1, 2015 2:00pm

Don Giovanni
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
San Diego Civic Theatre
Saturday February 14, 2015 7:00pm
Tuesday February 17, 2015 7:00pm
Friday February 20, 2015 7:00pm
Sunday February 22, 2015 2:00pm

Nixon in China
John Adams
San Diego Civic Theatre
Saturday March 14, 2015 7:00pm
Tuesday March 17, 2015 7:00pm
Friday March 20, 2015 7:00pm
Sunday March 22, 2015 2:00pm

50th Anniversary Gala Concert
Jacobs Music Center – Copley Symphony Hall
Saturday April 18, 2015 7:00pm
Sunday April 19, 2015 2:00pm

El Pasado Nunca se Termina (The Past is Never Finished)
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán / Leonard Foglia / José “Pepe” Martinez
San Diego Civic Theatre
Saturday April 25, 2015 2:00pm
Saturday April 25, 2015 7:00pm


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