Photo by James Niebuhr
Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Moby-Dick (libretto: Gene Scheer), Dead Man Walking (libretto: Terrence McNally), Three Decembers (libretto: Scheer), The End of the Affair (libretto: Heather McDonald), To Hell and Back (libretto: Scheer), and the stage works For a Look or a Touch (libretto: Scheer) and At the Statue of Venus (libretto: McNally). He has also composed more than 200 art songs, as well as orchestral, choral and chamber music. His recent recording of songs and duets, PASSING BY: Songs by Jake Heggie, (AVIE), features performances by Isabel Bayrakdarian, Zheng Cao, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Paul Groves, Keith Phares, and Frederica von Stade.
The Dallas Opera recently announced the commission of GREAT SCOTT, a new opera by Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally. The opera will star the great American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Arden Scott, a famous singer who returns to her home town to perform a forgotten bel canto opera titled Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei. Mad scenes, an erupting volcano, children’s chorus and a corps de ballet are part of the chaos onstage, backstage and in Arden’s own life in this original story by McNally. The opera is scheduled to open the 2015/16 season at Dallas Opera and will be conducted by Evan Rogister.
Also upcoming is Another Sunrise (libretto by Gene Scheer) for soprano Caitlin Lynch, commissioned by Music of Remembrance; My Beloved (poetry by Walter Benton) for baritone Rod Gilfry, commissioned by the Seattle Commissioning Club; a chamber piece for violinist Aloysia Friedmann and pianist Jon Kimura Parker, commissioned by the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival; and Ahab Symphony for tenor Richard Croft and the University of North Texas at Denton, where Heggie was the 2010-11 guest artist-in-residence. The composer’s recent premieres have included Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (libretto by Scheer) for DiDonato with the Alexander String Quartet, commissioned by San Francisco Performances; The Breaking Waves (poetry by Sister Helen Prejean), performed by mezzo DiDonato & pianist David Zobel at Carnegie Hall; A Question of Light (poetry by Scheer), performed by baritone Nathan Gunn & Heggie at The Dallas Opera; and Pieces of 9/11: Memories from Houston (texts by Scheer), a vocal-chamber work commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks.
Heggie’s operas have been performed to tremendous acclaim internationally in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, South Africa and by more than a dozen American opera companies, including: San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and Madison Opera. Dead Man Walking has been performed nearly 150 times since its San Francisco premiere in 2000, making it one of the most performed new American operas. Moby-Dick received its 2010 world premiere at The Dallas Opera and was co-commissioned by Dallas with four other companies: San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia.
Heggie is an ardent champion of writers. Most of his operas and stage works feature libretti written by either Terrence McNally or Gene Scheer; while sources for song texts and poetry have also included Maya Angelou, Charlene Baldridge, Raymond Carver, Emily Dickinson, John Hall, A.E. Housman, Vachel Lindsay, Philip Littell, Armistead Maupin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sister Helen Prejean, Gini Savage, Vincent Van Gogh, Frederica von Stade, and Eugenia Zukerman, to name a few. The composer has a close association with the conductor Patrick Summers, who has led the world premieres of all the composer’s major operas; and the director Leonard Foglia, who has directed the premieres of Moby-Dick, Three Decembers, and The End of the Affair, as well as the United States national tour of Dead Man Walking.
Recordings of Heggie’s compositions include PASSING BY: Songs by Jake Heggie (Avie), Dead Man Walking (Erato), Three Decembers (Albany), Flesh and Stone (Americus), To Hell and Back (Magnatune),The Faces of Love (RCA Red Seal), The Deepest Desire (Eloquentia), and For a Look or a Touch (Naxos). Heggie was the recipient of a 2005/2006 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has been composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Opera, Eos Orchestra, and Vail Valley Music Festival. As a coach and teacher, he has given classes at universities throughout the United States and at summer festivals such as SongFest in Malibu and the Steans Institute at Ravinia. Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco.