Monday, May 24, 2010

Moby Dick at the Dallas Opera

Earlier this month I saw the future of opera. It is Moby Dick at Dallas’s Winspear Opera House.

Moby Dick, which was commissioned by a group of opera houses that included Dallas, Calgary, San Francisco, and South Australia, was dramatic, compelling and, best of all, new.

If opera is to remain a living art form, then it needs to be dragged into the 21st century. Even opera buffs can’t be happy seeing the same operas like Don Giovanni (which I’ll see for the third time next year) or Madame Butterfly (which I’ll review soon). Audiences unfamiliar with opera are going to be even less excited about classic works in foreign languages. In its heyday, opera was contemporary art told in the vernacular. New operas were in great demand and the genre didn’t shy away from contemporary technology.

Moby Dick is the first 21st century opera. It is American and dares to turn one of the most heroic novels in American literature into a story for our time. The opera also embraces technology. The whaling ship is projected onto the stage as are the figures of the whaling boats and the sea.

Everything worked to stunning effect. It’s too late to see Moby Dick in Dallas now. It’s run is done. But if you happen to have a chance to see it during its tour, I couldn’t more strongly recommend it.

I’ll be looking forward to reviews from other venues to see if the technological advances used are dependent on the Winspear Opera House or work in other places as well. Maybe at some point one of you can let me know.

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