Dallas — After months of bleak news about the financial problems and rumored closing of the San Diego Opera, followed by much more upbeat news with successful online #SaveSanDiegoOpera and crowdfunding campaigns, and the announcement of a bigger 2015 season, the good news for the organization continues. The latest: San Diego Opera will join Dallas Opera in co-producing the previously announced world premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's Great Scott, opening in the fall of 2015 in Dallas. The production will appear in San Diego in the 2016-17 season. Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who was an early supporter of the Save San Diego Opera campaign, will star in the Dallas production. Casting for San Diego has not been announced yet.
The announcement was made today at the Opera America 2014 Conference in San Francisco.
Here's more about the collaboration and the opera itself from the Dallas Opera's news release:
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 SDO’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. SDO’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, SDO’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.