Great Performances – “Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera”

Air date: 11/01/2013

San Francisco Opera’s Critically Acclaimed Presentation of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick on Great Performances Friday, November 1, 2013 at 9 p.m. as Part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival

Jay Hunter Morris sings Captain Ahab in Leonard Foglia’s multimedia production


Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s award-winning opera Moby-Dick, will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Friday, November 1, 2013 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Composed in two acts and sung in English, Heggie and Scheer’s opera adaptation brings a thrilling new musical dimension to one of the towering classics of American literature, Herman Melville’s celebrated novel Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.

The Bay Area premiere ran for eight performances in the fall of 2012 at the historic War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers presided over a vocally resplendent cast of singers including Jay Hunter Morris (Captain Ahab), Stephen Costello (Greenhorn), Jonathan Lemalu (Queequeg), Morgan Smith (Starbuck), Talise Trevigne (Pip), Matthew O’Neill (Flask) and Robert Orth (Stubb), The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Ian Robertson, Chorus Director), in a stage production directed by Leonard Foglia, choreographed by Keturah Stickann and designed by Robert Brill (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Donald Holder (lighting), and Elaine J. McCarthy (projections).

Bay Area music critics warmly embraced the opera’s premiere. “The result is a masterpiece of clarity and intensity, with a score that is at once thematically compact and richly inventive,” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle.  “…‘Moby-Dick’ boasts an ace cast and whiz-bang production values: digital projections that conjure the vast rolling seas; physical sets with mile-high masts and Brooklyn-Bridge grids of rigging…‘Moby’ is awesome in a 21st century Broadway kind of way,” extolled the San Jose Mercury News.

Moby-Dick was co-commissioned by San Francisco Opera in partnership with the Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia, and premiered at the Dallas Opera’s Winspear Opera House in April 2010.  In September 2012, Moby-Dick was voted “Best Opera” and Leonard Foglia was named “Best Director of an Opera” at the 2012 Helpmann Awards for Performing Arts in Australia, that country’s highest awards recognizing distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in live performance.

Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its 40 year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming.  Over the course of its four decades, the series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.

San Francisco Opera has a long and distinguished broadcast history with Great Performances including national telecasts of Samson et Dalila, L’Africaine, Mefistofele, Turandot, Dangerous Liaisons, San Francisco Opera 75th Anniversary Gala Celebration Concert, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Merry Widow.

The media production of Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Helen & Peter Bing, Ms. Joanne Bober, Margaret Boulware & Hartley Hampton, Gordon P. and Ann G. Getty, Stephen & Diane Heiman, Joan & Irwin Jacobs, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Sara & Bill Morgan, The Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, and Dr. Kenneth & Laurel Stein Duty and Devotion Memorial Fund. The filming of Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera is made possible, in part, by the Koret-Taube Media Suite.

Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera is a co-production of San Francisco Opera and THIRTEEN in association with WNET. Directed by Frank Zamacona, the television production is produced by Jessica Koplos and Matthew Shilvock; David Gockley is executive producer. For Great Performances, John Walker is producer, Bill O’Donnell is series producer, and David Horn is executive producer.

Major support for the Great Performances telecast is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Starr Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and PBS.

Visit Great Performances Online at for additional information about this and other programs.



About WNET
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! andCyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.


About the PBS Arts Fall Festival

As part of its commitment to increase every American’s access to — and participation in — the arts, PBS kicks off the multiplatform PBS Arts Fall Festival on Friday, October 18, 2013, hosted by award-winning television, film and stage star Anna Deavere Smith.  Anchored by broadcasts every Friday night and a range of related online content, the Fall Festival features artists and performances from across the country, comprised of full-length performances, behind-the-scenes interviews, and artist and performer profiles.

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