Angeles Review by Willard Manus
Hast seen the great white whale?
Los Angeles Opera has mounted a memorable production of MOBY-DICK, with music by Jake Heggie, libretto by Gene Scheer, and direction by Leonard Foglia. Adapted (with some curious changes) from Herman Melvilles classic American novel, the opera features tenor Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab, the vengeful, peg-legged skipper of the Pequod, a whaling boat out of Nantucket, Mass. Morris is magnificent as Ahab, commanding the stage at all times, both as actor and singer. He drives the action, not just verbally but physically, often pounding away on the deck of the Pequod with his stump in eight-eight time, a motif Heggie uses to good effect.
featured singers give strong performances as well: Morgan Smith as first-mate
Starbuck; Musa Ngqungwana as harpooner Queequeg; Malcolm MacKenzie as
second mate Stubb; and Matthew ONeill as third mate Flask. As for
cabin boy Pip and new crew member Greenhorn, questions must be asked.
Why is Pip sung by a woman (soprano Jacqueline Echols) and why has such
an important character as Ishmael been renamed (and refashioned) as Greenhorn
(Joshua Guerrero)? One also wonders about the way the opera ends, on a
sentimental note that Melville never intended, with Greenhorn, the lone
survivor of the Pequods destruction, finding a father in Captain
Gardiner (Nicholas Brownlee), skipper of the whaler which has come to
the aid of the Pequod.