F-M Opera Furthers Area Infusion of Moby Dick
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 13:09
Noticed a fair amount of Moby Dick hype in the region the past five months? Yes? No? Well, anyway, be prepared, as the famed white whale comes to life in operatic form this week at the Plains Art Museum.
Just one event on the schedule of happenings involved with the 3.2.1 project of the public libraries of Fargo, Moorhead, and West Fargo, and the Plains Art Museum, the Fargo-Moorhead Opera’s “Scenes from Moby Dick” continues the mission of promoting the classic whale tale while entertaining at the same time.
Composing the 3.2.1 project are three communities (Fargo, Moorhead, and West Fargo) two novels (Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” and Sena Jeter Naslund’s “Ahab’s Wife”) and one art exhibit (T.L. Solien’s “Toward the Setting Sun,” 58 works of art inspired by the two novels).
“Scenes from Moby Dick” is another medium to present the classic story, albeit a dramatic one, as certain parts of the book are acted out through operatic performances on the third floor of the Plains Art Museum this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
“We will be presenting the scenes from the opera, of course, we can’t do a full production in the Plains,” David Hamilton, executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Opera, said. “They’re concert scenes, however, we have gotten images from the San Diego opera production to be able to project so that people can see what the production looks like.”
Spaces issues prevent the entire production from being performed, as no theater is large enough in the area to accommodate the full-scale show. This version has been downsized to selected scenes and songs while still remaining true to the original music of the full production.
“I really love the music, it’s just beautiful and it’s by the number one opera composer of our time right now,” Hamilton said.
That composer is Jake Heggie, who is the hand behind many other operatic productions, such as “The End of the Affair” and “To Hell and Back.” His “Moby-Dick” came alive onstage in Dallas in April 2010, and has since been performed in various cities along the East Coast and in Australia.
In fact, a link to past productions will be present in the Fargo-Moorhead Opera’s edition as Joseph Mechavich heads the helm as conductor.
“We’re very fortunate [that Mechavich] who has conducted productions both in San Diego and Calgary will be coming to conduct and play piano for us,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, fellow tenor Joshua Kohl, baritone Cory Renbarger, and bass Ashraf Sewailam take up the parts of the characters in this production, which actually allows for a few different styles of arrangements despite the size of the show.
“What we have chosen to do is we’ve got four of the characters and so we’re doing a variety of scenes,” Hamilton said. “There’s a couple of scenes that involve all four of us, and then there are solo scenes for Captain Ahab, the first mate Starbuck, and the young character called Greenhorn. He is one who would be Ishmael.”
Though this production will not be shown in its entirety, opera fans and lovers of the Melville classic can see the story told in an interesting and culturally stimulating way. More events (movies, book talks, etc.) are to follow in the 3.2.1 project, an undertaking that has brought together three communities with one literary legend.
“It’s great that all these organizations were all able to come together and present a story that everybody knows but not everybody has read,” Hamilton said.
“Scenes from Moby Dick” is presented by the Fargo-Moorhead Opera at the Plains Art Museum at 704 1st Ave. N. on Oct. 1 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 2 at 12:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students. Other prices range from $40 to $80. Tickets are available online at fmopera.org and by phone at 701-239-4558.